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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release: Nov. 22, 2013

Knox County Man Pleads Guilty to Theft Charges

Knoxville, Tenn. - Mustafa El-Zabet, 51, former owner of Quick Stop Mart in Knoxville, plead guilty to one felony count of theft in Knox County Criminal Court Thursday.

Knox County Judge Mary Beth Lebowitz ruled that El-Zabet be placed on two years unsupervised probation and pay $49,403.23 restitution to the state for sales tax owed. The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to El-Zabet's plea and sentencing.

"This investigation serves as a reminder that retailers are not entitled to use or keep sales tax monies," said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. "Sales tax revenues collected by retailers are never property of the retailer and are always the property of our state and local governments. These taxes must be remitted to the state as required by law."

The department pursued the criminal case in cooperation with District Attorney General Randall Nichols' office. Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee's revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2013 fiscal year, it collected $11.7 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.2 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the department, visit