Contributed Photo: The owners of the former Mother Bunch Brewing Inc. were recently ordered to pay nearly $657,000 in restitution and fines regarding a failure to pay transaction privilege tax (sales tax), and failure to pay Arizona individual income tax.
By Jon Johnson
PHOENIX – Husband and wife Jimmie McBride and Julie Meeker and their business Mother Bunch Brewing Inc. were recently ordered to pay nearly $657,000 in restitution and fines regarding a failure to pay transaction privilege tax (sales tax), and failure to pay Arizona individual income tax.
The Mother Bunch brewery and restaurant was established in September 2014 and was located at 825 N. 7th St. It was popular for its craft brewing and that it had a woman at its head.
The business closed in January 2020 with Meeker issuing this statement, “It is with deep sadness, but also with deep gratitude, that I must announce the closing of Mother Bunch Brewing. I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle over the last few months and I had to come to the hardest decision in my life. I want to personally thank all of our great staff and especially all of the wonderful and amazing people I have had the chance to meet over the last five years. I will never regret this opportunity to share my love of craft beer and spread the story of women in brewing.”
According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, the owners and craft brewery defrauded the state of Arizona in the amount of $632,806.70 in failed sales tax payments and was ordered that amount in restitution. The defendants were also given a $10,000 fine for that offense.
According to their plea agreements, the defendants will also pay $4,494 in missed state income tax payments and fines totaling $9,575 for that offense.
A similar situation occurred in Greenlee County in 2021 when Jackie Norton, owner of PJ’s Cafe, was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to pay $181,992 restitution after pleading guilty to tax fraud.
Norton, 69, pleaded guilty on July 13, 2021, to three charges in Greenlee County Superior Court: fraudulent schemes and artifices – a Class-2 felony, failure to file transaction privilege tax returns – a Class-5 felony, and filing false returns – a Class-4 felony. The plea agreement dismissed 14 other felony charges.
The case was prosecuted in Greenlee County Superior Court by Mary Harriss with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and Andrew Marcantel – a criminal defense attorney from Chandler – represented Norton.
According to the indictment, PJ’s Cafe made $2,077,761 in taxable sales between March 2012 and December 2018, with Norton failing to pay the state $181,922 in sales tax.
Additionally, Norton was accused of forging W-2 tax forms and not paying the state some taxes from an employee. The investigation cited Norton had kept $10,000 in Social Security taxes an employee paid from 2009 to 2014.
The Arizona Department of Revenue initiated its investigation after an employee inquired about a tax refund. The ensuing investigation revealed Norton’s W-2 forms showed taxes were withheld from the employee but were never paid.
Norton has run PJ’s Cafe since 1987. The flood of 1983 damaged the building of her first business, a fabric shop, and caused her to purchase the building where PJ’s is located. Four years later, she switched to making food and became the choice in Clifton for a “home-away-from-home” dining experience.