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Published: Tuesday, 9/7/2010

Fitness chain owner found guilty of failing to pay sales taxes

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Donald Stump, an owner of the Lifestyles for Ladies Only fitness chain, entered a plea in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Tuesday for failing to submit thousands of dollars in sales taxes to the state.

Stump, 58, of Temperance, pleaded no contest to one count of failure to remit sales taxes. As part of the agreement, a second charge of aggravated theft will be dismissed at his Oct. 19 sentencing.

Judge Frederick McDonald found Stump guilty of not paying at least $610,000 in sales taxes over a period of five years. The taxes were supposed to be paid for Stump's businesses at 4920 Monroe St. and 2580 Parkway Plaza in Maumee.

Assistant County Prosecutor Frank Spryszak said that the amount owed the state — not including penalties and interest — was last calculated in May to be $611,515.35 but that there have been some payments and non-payments since then. A final restitution number will be available at his sentencing date.

Stump faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine when sentenced. Mr. Spryszak said as part of the plea negotiations that the prosecutor's office will recommend community control.

Stump is the second businessman in recent weeks to face felony charges of failing to pay sales taxes. Toledo restaurateur Tom Cousino is being screened for the pretrial diversion program.

Mr. Cousino, 64, of Perrysburg, was charged with one count each of grand theft and failure to remit Ohio sales taxes withheld, both fourth-degree felonies, for allegedly failing to pay a total of $80,915.91 in sales taxes — excluding penalties and interest — to the state of Ohio.

Had he been convicted on the charges, he could have faced up to three years in prison.

Last week, he withdrew his not guilty plea to each count and requested that he be screened for diversion. Judge McDonald referred him to the probation department to determine whether he is eligible and set a Sept. 28 hearing date.

Stump's attorney, Sheldon Wittenberg, noted that his client would be eligible for the diversion program based on his lack of any prior criminal record. However, part of the program would require Stump to pay back full restitution in three years — an amount Mr. Wittenberg said would likely set him up for failure.

"Even though he was eligible for the program, it couldn't work because of the payback schedule," Mr. Wittenberg said.



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