High Point businessman pleads guilty in state tax case

Paul Robert Riggan

RALEIGH, N.C. — A High Point businessman pleaded guilty Friday in Wake County Superior Court to felony tax charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue, according to a news release from the NCDOR.

Paul Robert Riggan, 48, of High Point, pleaded guilty to three counts of embezzlement of state property and three counts of embezzlement of Guilford County property.

Riggan was sentenced to a 16-month minimum, 29-month maximum prison term. The sentence was suspended and as a condition of probation.

Riggan was ordered to serve 90 days in the custody of Guilford County Detention Center.

Riggan was also placed on supervised probation for 36 months, ordered to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and complete 100 hours of community service work. Riggan paid $194,239.84 in restitution prior to court.

Information presented in court showed that Riggan — who was the owner and responsible person of Gate City Catering, LLC, doing business as Blue Water Grille, and Blue Bourbon Jack’s, Soho Food Group, LLC doing business as Lulu and Blu, and Blue Rock Pizza and Tap, LLC at the time of the offenses — aided and abetted the business entities to embezzle, misapply and convert to their own use $194,239.84 in North Carolina and Guilford County sales tax during the period of Aug. 1, 2012 through Jan. 20, 2016.

During this period of time, Riggan was the responsible person of the corporation and was under a duty to collect, hold in trust, and remit North Carolina State Sales Taxes to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, the release said.

The charges against Riggan resulted from an investigation by special agents with the department’s Criminal Investigations Section in Raleigh, and was prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions attorneys in the office of the Attorney General.

Riggan release the following statement to FOX8 on Wednesday:

“In the spring of 2016, Blue Rock Pizza and Blue Water Grille were subject to a routine audit from the state of North Carolina Department of Revenue. At the conclusion of this audit, I was found to have incompletely and inaccurately reported a portion of sales income for 2013, 2014, and part of 2015 that should have been subject to North Carolina and Guilford County sales tax. Upon discovering the inaccurately and incompletely reported amount due the state of North Carolina and Guilford County, I immediately made full payment of all money owed. At the conclusion of the audit and subsequent investigation, I was charged with failure to report and pay sales tax due. It is ultimately my sole responsibility to keep accurate and complete records, as is expected of all business owners, and I carelessly failed to do so. Since this has come to light, I have made significant changes, specifically by hiring professional accounting and business management staff, to ensure that I remain in full compliance with state law and I accept full responsibility for my inadequate oversight.

“I ask that you respect the privacy of our families, especially children, and our employees, who have had no participation in my failure to maintain proper oversight of my business. I have called High Point home for many years and value tremendously the relationships that I have enjoyed over these years. This will in no way diminish my participation in the community as a parent and businessman. I thank all of you for your support and I hope that this will not define me in the community, although it remains my responsibility and obligation to the community to conduct business in a proper manner and stay compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.”

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