Former Knox County Business Owner Arrested on Sales Tax Evasion and Theft Charges

Monday, June 10, 2013 | 03:59pm

Knoxville, Tenn. - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of Mustafa El-Zabet, age 50, of Knoxville, TN. On June 7, 2013, El-Zabet was arrested at his home by Special Agents of the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Bond was set at $5,000.

On June 4, 2013, El-Zabet, former owner of a convenience market located on East Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury on 26 Class E felony counts of sales tax evasion in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440(g) and one Class C felony of Theft in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 39-14-103. The indictment charges that El-Zabet willfully attempted to evade $49,403.23 in sales tax due the State of Tennessee during the period January 2009 through December 2011.

"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."

If convicted, El-Zabet could be sentenced up to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined $3,000 for each count of the tax evasion and a maximum of six years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $10,000 for the one count of theft.

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, $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