Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of April 23, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Criminal Division, No. 2394 CD 1984
Charles A. Rector, Lemoyne, for appellant.
Andrea F. McKenna, Deputy Attorney General, Harrisburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cavanaugh, Tamilia and Cercone, JJ.
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 521]
Appellant, Stanley Walter Arent, pleaded guilty to eight counts of failure to file sales tax returns from April, 1983, through November, 1983, and to sixteen counts of failure to remit sales tax from August, 1982, through November, 1983. 72 P.S. § 7268(b). Appellant was the proprietor of a beer distributorship in Hillsville, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and it was the returns owing from the operation of this business that gave rise to the charges. On April 23, 1985, appellant was sentenced to a total of two to eight years incarceration and was ordered to make restitution of approximately $95,000.00, which is the tax liability incurred absent fines and penalties. Appellant filed a timely Motion to Modify Sentence which was denied.
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 522]
In this appeal, it is alleged by appellant that the lower court failed to state adequate reasons for its sentence on the record and that the sentence which was imposed was excessive as too severe a punishment. We agree and remand for resentencing.
In reviewing a sentence we must accord a great deal of discretion to the sentencing court. Commonwealth v. Martin, 466 Pa. 118, 351 A.2d 650 (1976). A sentence will not generally be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion on the part of the sentencing court. However, our careful consideration of the sentencing guidelines in light of the circumstances of this case convinces us that the sentence of incarceration of from two to eight years was an excessively harsh and manifestly excessive sentence and that the court failed to state adequate reasons for the sentence on the record.
The section of the Tax Reform Code under which appellant was prosecuted, 72 P.S. § 7268(b), provides that each count of failure to file sales tax returns and failure to remit sales tax is a misdemeanor, conviction of which could result, inter alia, in imprisonment of up to one year. Appellant was sentenced on each of the first eight counts to a three to twelve month period of imprisonment, totaling two to eight years. For the second sixteen counts, he was sentenced on each count to one to six months imprisonment to run concurrently with the prior sentence. Therefore, the sentence imposed was clearly within the statutory limits. Although none of the individual sentences imposed here is in excess of the statutory maximum, we find the cumulative sentence to be so excessive as to inflict too severe a punishment.
In the exercise of its discretion,
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 523]
[t]he court must consider the character of the defendant and the particular circumstances of the offense in light of the legislative guidelines for sentencing, and must impose a sentence, that is the minimum sentence, consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense, and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant. ...