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Local store owner faces embezzlement charges

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A local pizza store owner has been charged with four counts of felony embezzlement for allegedly failing to pay taxes, according to Bedford Police Chief Jim Day.
    Gianfranco Greco, 38, the owner of Frank’s Place on E. Main Street, is charged with failing to pay taxes on four different occasions, Day said. He said the city treasurer attempted to work with Greco on getting the taxes paid, but when those efforts failed the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office suggested going ahead with filing the charges.
    Day said the embezzlement charges reflect the allegation that Greco used the funds collected for the taxes for other purposes. That scenario, he said, constitutes alleged fraud, resulting in the embezzlement charges.
    Day said the tax payments had been delinquent since June 2012.
    Greco was taken to Blue Ridge Regional Jail; bond was set at $2,500.
    This is not the first time Greco has faced embezzlement charges related to his restaurant.
    In  2006 he entered no contest pleas on three embezzlement charges in Bedford County Circuit Court.  He had originally faced 13 felony counts of embezzlement and nine misdemeanor charges of failing to file tax returns and withholding tax for the business between 2003 and 2005 in that case.
    Greco received a suspended sentence as part of the plea agreement on those three felony charges. Greco had paid the back taxes, along with the penalties and interest, within two months of having been charged in 2005.  That cooperation played a part in the commonwealth’s decision to not seek a jail sentence as part of the plea.
    In that case, Greco received a one year suspended sentence on each of the three charges, which ran concurrently. He was also placed on two years of unsupervised probation. The penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes in the 2006 case exceeded $4,000 with the actual taxes in the range of $20,000, according to authorities.