By Matt Gryta
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
October 19, 2010, 6:19 AM
Updated: October 19, 2010, 9:52 PM
Starting tonight and continuing every Tuesday for the next year, the more than 100 nightly diners at the Buffalo City Mission will feast on pizza -- thanks to State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia and a tax cheat.
Joseph J. Jacobbi, 57, operator of Casa-Di-Pizza, a popular Elmwood Avenue restaurant, was spared a jail term on his massive sales tax fraud case, but the judge Monday ordered him to deliver 12 sheet pizzas to the City Mission once a week on Tuesdays for the next 52 weeks, beginning tonight.
After Jacobbi turned over a check for $25,000 -- part of the $104,295.31 court officials said he withheld from the state between March 2004 and the end of May 2008 -- the judge ordered the weekly pizza deliveries as a form of community service.
"I will leave the choice of toppings up to you," he told the nonplussed restaurant owner.
Though the judge declined to comment afterward, court officials said he felt that with the city's increasing number of out-of-work and homeless people, the pizza penalty would be a way to help the community's neediest in a very direct manner.
With his check Monday, Jacobbi, 57, of Winding Woods Lane, Hamburg, has repaid $51,073 of the sales tax he withheld from the state. To satisfy the Department of Taxation and Finance, which had turned the funding dispute over to the Erie County District Attorney's Office, the judge also ordered Jacobbi to make 12 monthly restitution payments of $4,400 each to the state agency beginning Dec. 1.
Gary M. Ertel, head of the district attorney's Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, said that as part of an Aug. 19 guilty plea to third-degree grand larceny, Jacobbi came to court with an initial payment of $26,073. Monthly restitution payments will also cover processing costs.
Jacobbi, who declined to comment after the sentencing, had been facing a prison term of up to seven years on the sales tax crime.
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