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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release: Aug. 20, 2013

Knox County Businessman Arrested on Sales Tax Evasion Charges

Knoxville, Tenn. - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of Ismail Ayesh, age 51, of Knoxville, TN. On August 16, 2013, Ayesh was arrested by officers of the Knoxville Police Department. Bond was set at $10,000.

On August 13, 2013, the Knox County Grand Jury indicted Ayesh on 24 Class E felony counts of sales tax evasion in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440(g) and one Class B felony count of Theft of Property over $60,000 in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 39-14-103. The indictment charges that Ayesh willfully attempted to evade $97,920.38 in sales tax due the State of Tennessee for Bi Lo Market, formerly located on Martin Luther King Avenue in Knoxville, during the period January 2009 through December 2010.

"Tennessee's tax structure depends on taxpayers voluntarily complying with the laws," said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. "Taxpayers who collect but intentionally do not remit sales tax, breach the public's trust and violate the criminal laws of the State. This case underscores our commitment to rigorous and fair administration of Tennessee's tax laws."

If convicted, Ayesh could be sentenced up to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined $3,000.00 for each of the tax evasion counts and a maximum of twelve years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $25,000.00 for theft of property.

Prosecution of this criminal case was pursued by the department in cooperation with District Attorney General Randy 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).

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 www.TN.gov/revenue.

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