Local restaurateur Tom Cousino appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday to face criminal charges resulting from allegations that he failed to remit the sales taxes collected at one of his businesses.
Mr. Cousino, 64, of Perrysburg is charged with one count each of grand theft and failure to remit Ohio sales taxes withheld, both fourth-degree felonies. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
At Mr. Cousino's scheduled arraignment yesterday, Judge James Bates recused himself, saying he was a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Cousino and his family. The case will be assigned to another judge and another arraignment date will be set.
Mr. Cousino was taken into custody yesterday to be fingerprinted and photographed at the Lucas County jail. He was then released on his own recognizance.
The charges are a result of an Ohio Department of Taxation investigation alleging Mr. Cousino owed the state $80,915.91, not including penalties and interest. The department alleges he failed to remit sales tax between February, 2008, and February, 2010, for his business Dri-Car-To Corp., which does business as Cousino's Steakhouse, 1842 Woodville Rd.
Attorney Joseph Solomon, who is representing Mr. Cousino, said yesterday his client has been working with the state to pay taxes for the past several years. He added that there was "clearly no criminal conduct."