A central Minnesota man has been placed on probation and faces a hefty restitution bill for dodging taxes while running an unlicensed motor vehicle business.
Grady A. Shearer, 34, of Foley, was sentenced Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court after pleading guilty to two of the 53 counts of failing to pay or collect and remit sales and use tax, and two of the four counts of failing to file individual income tax returns. The remaining counts were dismissed.
Judge Kellie Charles placed Shearer on five years' supervised probation and ordered him to make restitution within those five years. In total, his tax bill adds up to more than $222,000, including penalties and interest.
If Shearer complies with all terms of his probation, his conviction will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Although he did not have the dealer's license required in Minnesota, Shearer sold vehicles, outdoor recreation equipment and other items through Facebook and Instagram while living in St. Cloud and Foley.
He failed to collect and remit sales tax for these transactions from January 2018 to May 2022. Shearer also failed to file individual income tax returns for 2018 through 2021.
Law enforcement became aware of Shearer's operation in April 2020 after a Minnesota State Patrol trooper stopped the driver of a Lamborghini Gallardo, a luxury sports car that had neither license plates nor proper registration.
The patrol reviewed the vehicle's title history and saw that Shearer claimed to have bought the car for $20,000 in 2019, "even though the fair market value was approximately $85,000."
Recognizing the difference between the purchase price and the car's estimated value, the patrol suspected Shearer was trying to avoid paying sales tax on the vehicle. That led law enforcement to Shearer's vehicle sales on Facebook and Instagram.