By Michael R. Moser
A Crossville businessman presented Clerk of Courts Larry Sherrill a check for $75,000 prior to his appearance in Cumberland County Criminal Court as a down payment on restitution the state says he owes in a tax evasion case.
Vipul Manubhai Patel, 33, owner of JASH Corporation, which is doing business as Tobacco and Beverage Mart in Crossville, pleaded guilty to one felony count of sales tax evasion. The remaining 22 counts were then dismissed.
Terms of the sentencing agreement allowed Patel to plead guilty in exchange of being placed on judicial diversion. Patel is to serve one year on supervised probation during which time he is to pay an additional $24,774.03 restitution for sale tax still owed.
At the end of that year, if restitution is paid in full and other conditions of probation are met, Patel will be eligible to petition the court to have his record cleared of the charge. That expungement is not automatic, but must be agreed to by a judge.
The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to Patel’s plea and sentencing.
The case stems from failure to pay sales tax owed the state from February 2008 through December 2010.
In a press release, the following statement was issued: “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 Randy York’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).
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.