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Special Investigations News Release

For Immediate Release:  Feb. 7, 2014

Hamilton County Businessman Arrested on Liquor-by-the-drink
and Sales Tax Evasion Charges

Chattanooga, Tenn. - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of John Lewis Blewett, 68, of Chattanooga. On February 6, Department of Revenue Special Agents arrested Blewett at his business, Mirage Images. Bond was set at $5,000.

On February 5, the Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Blewett on one Class E felony count each of liquor by the drink and sales tax evasion. The indictments charge that Blewett willfully attempted to evade liquor by the drink tax in an amount greater than $1,000 and sales tax in an amount greater than $1,000 by filing false tax returns from October 2007 through June 2010.

"The majority of businesses pay appropriate taxes," said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. "I hope this case will serve as a warning to others who think they can get away with tax fraud in Tennessee. We will continue to pursue criminal activity and prosecute tax evaders to assure fairness in our tax structure for Tennesseans."

If convicted, Blewett could be sentenced up to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined $3,000 for each count of liquor by the drink and sales tax evasion.

Prosecution of this criminal case was pursued by the Department in cooperation with District Attorney General Bill Cox'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 established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. It collects approximately 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2013 fiscal year, the Department collected $11.7 billion in state taxes and fees and over $2.2 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the Department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

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