2009-04-04 / News

Second defendant pleads guilty

By Scott Rawdon

AVONDALE - A Capt'n Woody's co-owner pleads guilty. Joseph Marasco, 42, of Pataskala, pleaded guilty in United States District Court Wednesday to one count of willfully filing a fraudulent 2002 federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service and to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Marasco faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years as well as a fine of up to $2 million, according to a US Department of Justice press release. Marasco remains on bond pending his sentencing, which is not set.

According to public court documents and testimony, beginning in early 1997 and continuing for a period of seven or eight years, Marasco located sources of marijuana that he and co-conspirator and Capt'n Woody's coowner Robert M. Fusner sold to friends and associates. Typically the marijuana would be brought into Central Ohio from out of state; one supplier was from Canada. Marasco did not report the profits from the sale of marijuana on his federal income tax returns, nor did he pay any federal income taxes on these profits. The IRS estimated that for the three consecutive years 2001 through 2003, Marasco failed to pay approximately $84,000 in federal income taxes.

A federal grand jury indicted Marasco along with Fusner, 33, of Grove City, on July 16, 2008. Fusner pleaded guilty on February 26, 2009 to one count of willfully filing a fraudulent 2001 federal income tax return with the IRS and to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Robert "Pedro" Mar, Capt'n Woody's general manager, was not implicated in any wrongdoing, and there was no implication that any drugs were ever sold from Capt'n Woody's premises.

Matt Mullins, public information officer for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, said Wednesday he believes a liquor permit transfer to Buckeye Lake Tavern, LLC, under the control of Mar's father, Gee W. Mar, may happen soon. In the meantime, the Ohio Department of Taxation notified the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control that a review of the current permit holder's sales tax account concluded that Capt'n Woody's has no tax issues to stop the transfer.

The Division of Liquor Control renewed the liquor permit for Fusner and Marasco. Although it sounds unusual that a convicted felon and a soon-to-be convicted felon at the time of the renewal could hold a liquor license, Mullins said the permit must be renewed under the current holder's name before it can be transferred, and there is no Ohio law prohibiting a felon from holding a liquor permit. However, a felony conviction can be grounds for denying a permit.

Capt'n Woody's is now open seven days a week.

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