Memphis Business Owner Sentenced on Sales Tax Fraud and Theft Charges

Friday, August 19, 2011 | 02:49 pm
Alam Desta
Alam Desta

MEMPHIS - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the Aug. 17, 2011, sentencing of Alam Desta owner of Jackson Grocery located at 3955 Jackson Avenue in Memphis, Tenn.  Desta plead guilty to four counts of Sales Tax Evasion in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440(g), each a Class E felony, and one count of Theft of Property Over $10,000, a violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 39-14-103, a Class C felony.  

Judge James C. Beasley, Jr., sentenced Desta to serve two years probation on the Sales Tax Evasion and three years probation on the Theft of Property with the times to run concurrently.  Desta was ordered to pay full restitution to the state of $16,771.80. In addition, civil taxes, penalties and interest may be due the state.

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.”

Prosecution of this criminal case was pursued by the department in cooperation with District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich. Commissioner Roberts expressed his appreciation for the excellent cooperation the department has enjoyed with General Weirich.  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, $2.0 billion of local sales and business taxes were collected by the department for local governments during the 2010-2011 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