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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release:  Jan. 22, 2014

Cookeville Businessman Charged With Sales Tax Evasion and Theft

Nashville, Tenn. - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of Nishant (Neil) V. Meraiya, 36, of Cookeville, Tenn., for sales tax evasion and theft.

On Tuesday, the Decatur County Grand Jury indicted Meraiya on eight Class E felony counts of filing false sales tax returns and one Class B felony count of theft over $60,000. The charges relate to a five year time period, from May 2008 through May 2013, and several markets Meraiya owned in the middle Tennessee area. Those markets were located in Holladay, Cookeville, Red Boiling Springs, Westmoreland, Carthage and Lebanon.

"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, Meraiya could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $3,000 for each count of sales tax evasion and a maximum of 12 years and a $25,000 fine for theft over $60,000.

This case was pursued criminally by the department in cooperation with District Attorney Hansel McCadams' 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.

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