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Former area grocer arrested for not paying sales tax

TRIPP/TYNDALL/SCOTLAND — A man who abruptly closed three rural grocery stores last year has recently been charged for failing to pay seven months’ worth of sales tax.

Mark Mora — former owner of Tyndall, Tripp and Scotland’s Corner Grocery stores — is accused of failing to pay sales tax for the businesses between September 2016 and March 2017, according to recently filed court documents.

Mora and his wife, Pam, of Tripp, operated the stores for less than one year and closed all three with a week’s notice in March 2017. At that time, the Moras did not give a reason why they were closing the stores. They only placed a letter on their storefronts notifying people the markets would soon be going out of business.

Lara Cunningham, revenue agent of the business tax division of the South Dakota Department of Revenue, said businesses in South Dakota are required to remit a portion of money generated through sales tax back to the state. When that is not done, she said, business owners face penalties. She declined further comment and would not disclose how much in sales tax Mora failed to pay. 

Since the Moras closed the stores, local grocer R.F. Buche reopened the Tripp, Tyndall and Scotland locations, but two of the three closed in late December due to poor sales, according to Buche. The Scotland store remains open and the Tyndall store is scheduled to reopen under the ownership of Dan Cahoy at the end of the month.

According to court documents, Mora failed to pay sales tax for the September, October, November and December 2016 reporting periods, as well as the January, February and March 2017 reporting periods. Failing to pay sales tax two or more times is a Class 6 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. Mora faces three felony charges and 15 misdemeanors out of two area counties.

Mora appeared in Hutchinson County court on Monday and an arraignment is scheduled for later this month. An initial appearance for the Bon Homme County charges is scheduled for Friday.

According to Daily Republic records, Mora formerly served as a member of the Tripp-Delmont School Board before taking over the grocery stores in May 2016.