State Investigating Allegations Russian Lady Cooked Books: Warrant

By NBC Connecticut Chief Investigative Reporter Len Besthoff
|  Friday, May 2, 2014  |  Updated 12:45 PM EDT
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State Investigating Allegations Russian Lady Cooked Books: Warrant

The Russian Lady, a popular Hartford bar, is under investigation by the state after allegations surfaced that the business was keeping two separate sets of books and was cheating on its taxes.

On March 13, a warrant was executed at the bar, located at 191 Ann Uccello Street in Hartford, and officials seized tax records and a computer. 

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have obtained a copy of the warrant, which provides more details on the mysterious raid.

READ THE WARRANT HERE

It says the state Department of Revenue Services received an email in February from Brian Richards, the former operations manager for the Russian Lady, that references spreadsheets that were attached.

“It clearly shows how the Russian Lady is keeping two sets of books and cheating on their taxes,” Richards’ email stated, according to the warrant.

The spreadsheets showed that most monthly sales and use tax returns filed with the state were substantially lower than those the Russian Lady kept, the warrant states.

A revenue examiner looked over the spreadsheets and the Department of Revenue Services believes the Russian Lady’s owner had underreported taxable sales by more than $1.3 million over the past few years.

“Mr. Richards’ claim that there were two sets of books raises questions as to what he was doing because it was his responsibility to keep the books.  We are fully in cooperation with the Department of Revenue and will have questions ourselves.” Norm Pattis, attorney for Jerry Fornarelli, the owner of the Russian Lady, said.

NBC Connecticut has attempted to reach Richards, but has not heard back.

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