SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The former owner of Savannah’s Mellow Mushroom pizza franchise faces a federal charge for withholding more than $400,000 in payroll taxes.

Melissa Johnson was charged via an Information with Failure to Account for and Pay Over Employment Taxes, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Johnson faces up to five years in prison, fines and up three years of supervised release.

“Employers who willfully fail to collect, account for, and deposit with the IRS employment tax due are stealing from the U.S. Treasury and gaining an unfair advantage over their honest competitors,” Estes said. “Our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who willfully fail to comply with their employment tax responsibilities.” 

Johnson, the owner of LHMS Inc., allegedly spent thousands of dollars for Johnson’s benefit from 2015 to 2019. Estes said Johnson also failed to report payroll taxes withheld from the companies employees to the Internal Revenue Service.