FAIRBANKS — A Delta Junction couple and their now-defunct fuel company reached a plea agreement on a battery of felony tax evasion charges last week; the agreement leaves them with no jail time to serve and no felony convictions.
Charles and Terri Hennager, owners of Dipper Fuels and Lubes Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor failure to pay excise taxes. They were sentenced to 15 days in jail but received credit for time already served. They must each pay $50 in police surcharge fees.
They had been accused of keeping more than $25,000 in state gas and diesel taxes collected from their customers in 2005 and 2006.
They were originally indicted with 18 offenses related to the unpaid taxes by a Fairbanks Grand Jury in Nov. 2008.
Sixteen felony counts of failure to collect a tax and a felony theft count were dropped.
Their business, which has since gone bankrupt, pleaded guilty to willfully attempting to evade a tax. The other 17 charges dismissed against the couple were also dismissed against the company.
Jason Gazewood, the couple’s defense attorney, said he has never seen a corporation prosecuted under the state’s tax statutes. Because the corporation is now bankrupt, it will not pay a $100 surcharge included in the judgment, he said.
The couple is not solely responsible for the unpaid taxes, he said.
“We’re talking about people who were hit by hard economic times,” he said. “They took on a risk at a time when the economy was bad and they sold fuel to people who didn’t pay them.”
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545