|By Joshua Melvin, San Mateo County Times,
Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 06, 2010 - - REDWOOD CITY -- The former operator of a South San Francisco hotel faces as much as one year in jail after being convicted of three felonies that stem from $300,000 in taxes he collected from guests but did not pay to the city, officials said.
As part of a plea bargain, Sanjay Bakshi, 47, of Discovery Bay, pleaded no contest in San Mateo County Superior Court on Monday to three counts of felony misappropriation of public funds, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Bakshi is out of custody on his own recognizance and due back for sentencing Dec. 16.
Prosecutors say that, while he ran the Comfort Inn & Suites on 121 East Grand Ave., Bakshi collected hotel and conference center taxes from guests; however, starting in June 2006, he stopped passing the money on to the city. Under state law, hotels are obligated to turn over the tax dollars.
In December, when Bakshi turned himself in to police, city officials said he owned them about $340,000, including interest and penalties.
Defense attorney Frank Bell wrote in an e-mail that he couldn't immediately provide an exact number, but his client "has made substantial payments toward the debt." He added Bakshi, who no longer runs the hotel, "had severe economic problems with the only hotel he leased and could not pay the (hotel taxes)."
Long before criminal charges were filed, South San Francisco sent Bakshi a letter in 2006 demanding that he pay up. At that time,
he owed around $100,000. He sent the city seven checks, all of which bounced.
In 2007, a judge ordered Bakshi to pay the money and he didn't, prosecutors said. Finally, in December 2007, the South San Francisco police got a warrant for his arrest and began looking for him.
Bakshi has had numerous lawsuits filed against him in San Mateo County Superior Court, some of which seek payment for debts. In one suit, creditor Evans National Leasing was awarded $127,400.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.
To see more of the San Mateo County Times or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes/.
Copyright (c) 2010, San Mateo County Times, Calif.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 866-280-5210 (outside the United States, call +1 312-222-4544).