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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release: Aug. 17, 2012

Roane County Man Pleads Guilty to Sales Tax Evasion and Theft

Kingston, Tenn - On August 17, 2012, William Edward Lee, owner of Big E's Quick Mart, located in Rockwood, the Go Mart, located in Harriman, and Big E's Tobacco Outlet, located in Kingston, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion for each business, for a total of three counts of tax evasion in Roane County Criminal Court. Roane County Judge E. Eugene Eblen sentenced Lee, age 44, to eight years' probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the state in the amount of $280,752.52. In addition, Lee was granted Judicial Diversion. The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the guilty plea and sentencing of Lee.

"This investigation serves as a reminder that retailers are not entitled to use or keep sales tax monies," said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. "When sales tax revenues collected by a retailer they are at all times property of the state or local government and must be remitted to the state. Consumers who pay the tax deserve to know that the money will be used by the state and local governments for the common good. The department cannot and will not allow people engaged in fraudulent tax activities to have a competitive advantage over honest business people."

This case was pursued criminally by the department in cooperation with District Attorney General Russell Johnson's office. Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee's revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).

In addition to collecting state taxes, over $2.0 billion of local sales and business taxes were collected by the department for local governments during the 2012 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to