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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release:  June 24, 2014

Knox County Market Manager Pleads Guilty to Sales Tax Evasion

Knoxville, Tenn. - Ismail Ali Ayesh, 52, manager of the Bi Lo Market formerly located on Martin Luther King Avenue, pleaded guilty to one felony count of sales tax evasion in Knox County Criminal Court on Monday.

Knox County Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz sentenced Ayesh to two years unsupervised probation and ordered him to pay $50,000 in restitution to the state. The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to Ayesh’s plea and sentencing.

"When sales tax is collected from the public and not remitted, it is a breach of the public trust and a crime,” said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. “The Department of Revenue aggressively pursues criminal sanctions and demands accountability for such actions."

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 www.tn.gov/revenue.

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