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D.C. coffee celebrity and tax scofflaw Nick Cho has escaped time in the pen, thanks to a deal that he cut with the city’s Office of the Attorney General. The deal requires that Cho pay $190,000 in back sales taxes and penalties that he racked up at the Murky Coffee location in Capitol Hill. The tax charges against him carried a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Instead of slammer-time, Cho will have to do 400 hours of community service and serve five years of probation. In order to pay the tax money he owes, Cho has worked out a payment plan, which appears on a D.C. Superior Court document defining his probation. Cho will have to make an initial payment of $276.41, due on March 4. After 11 consecutive payments, the monthly amount due will increase to $3.900.00.

Another stipulation from the AG: “For every year the defendant resides or does business in the District of Columbia, he shall timely file and pay all District of Columbia taxes required under District of Columbia law.”

Cho’s troubles began back in 2008, when Murky, his popular Capitol Hill coffee haunt, was seized by the D.C. tax office, reportedly for what was estimated to be $400,000 in back sales taxes and penalties. “I messed up,” said Cho. “I didn’t pay taxes and it all caught up with me.”  After the city took possession of his shop, it subsequently sold its contents. If that wasn’t dire enough, the storefront’s landlord evicted the merchant. Later, Cho’s other coffee shop location, Murky Arlington, went under. In the months following, Cho was arraigned for his failure to pay sales taxes.

What did Cho do with the money he was supposed to send to the local treasury? Cho doesn’t know. “It could have been anything,” he says.

Cho says he’s lucky that friends have supported him throughout his ordeal: “People who know me and know me well support me because they know me and they know my heart.” he says. “They’re sad for my failings.”

Photo bycerbuside Creative Commons Attribution License