Coffee County Business Owner Charged With Tax Evasion and Theft

tax evasionThe Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of a Coffee County business owner. John Constantine, Sr. was charged with tax evasion and theft. Revenue Special Agents arrested Constantine in Manchester, Tenn. on Friday (Jan 16).
On January 13, the Coffee County Grand Jury indicted Constantine on six Class E felony counts of failing to file sales tax returns, one count of filing a false franchise and excise tax return and one Class C felony count of theft of property of more than $10,000. The indictments charge that from July 2010 through December 2011, Constantine failed to remit collected sales tax. The indictment also charges that Constantine filed a false franchise and excise tax return. Bond was set at $35,000.
“These charges are a symptom of organizational controls on my part,” Constantine told our news partner the Manchester Times. “Due to the complexity during the change of ownership and relocation of my business we encountered unforeseen difficulties.
“The Department of Revenue came to my business with guns drawn in March of 2014. This was the first I was aware of any problem. We have been in complete compliance since then. As soon as we were made aware of errors we tried to make things right with the state and that was our intention whether or not these charges were brought and that is what we will continue to do in the future.
“I have been in business in Coffee County since 1989 and I have never knowingly cheated a customer or the government out of a dime.”
“This investigation will serve as a reminder that retailers are not entitled to use or keep sales tax monies,” Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts said. “When sales tax revenues are collected by a retailer they are at all times property of the state or local government and must be remitted to the state.”
If convicted, Constantine could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $3,000 for each count of attempted tax evasion. He could also be sentenced to a maximum of six years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $10,000 for theft of property.
This case was pursued criminally by the Department in cooperation with District Attorney Craig Northcott and his staff.
Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee’s revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).