NORTH ATTLEBORO — Steven R. Bankert, 62, a well-known town resident and former owner of several laundromats, including two in Attleboro, has been found guilty of failing to file tax returns for six years, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.
Bankert was convicted Friday following a two-day jury trial in Worcester Superior Court on six counts of failing to file tax returns. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7.
The AG’s Office began its investigation of Bankert in August 2011 after Columbia Gas filed a complaint with the office. Bankert was found guilty in 2017 and sentenced to one year in jail and four years of probation on charges in connection with stealing more than $200,000 in natural gas.
The AG’s investigation determined that from 2008 to 2012, Bankert, a formerly licensed electrician, tampered with 10 gas meters at six laundromats he owned in Attleboro, Brockton, Lawrence and Worcester for the purpose of stealing natural gas. Two of the laundromats were in Attleboro.
Bankert is appealing the sentencing on that conviction and in February 2018 was ordered to pay $1,000 a month toward $195,000 in restitution to the gas company.
The tax charges arose out of the natural gas investigation.
“Our investigation revealed that this defendant was not only stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from gas companies, but he was defrauding the state by failing to file tax returns for a number of years,” Healey said. “We are pleased with this verdict and commend the collaborative work of investigators and prosecutors from our office and the Department of Revenue who handled this case.”
The case was prosecuted by assistant attorneys General Kristy Lavigne and Gabriel Thornton of Healey’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division, with assistance from investigator Jillian Petruzziello, senior victim witness advocate Megan Murphy, and investigators from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Bankert has had his share of legal troubles over the years.
In 2016, he was fined $675 for floating a replica pirate ship in Falls Pond in North Attleboro without a permit. The town contended the structure, which had a slide, swinging rope and diving board on it, was actually a dock, not a boat.
Norton police in 2018 filed charges against Bankert for allegedly allowing teenagers to drink alcohol in the parking lot of his Norton Mini-Golf and Ice Cream business near the Xfinity Center. He pleaded innocent in Attleboro District Court.
Bankert has also been fighting a foreclosure of his Pratt Lane home.