KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Athens restaurant owner is facing tax evasion and theft charges after he allegedly falsified tax returns for more than two years. Special agents from the Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue arrested Jesus Sanchez on Friday.

On Wednesday, a McMinn County grand jury indicted Sanchez, co-owner and manager of Mexi-Wing II, on one felony count of theft of property over $10,000, three felony counts of filing false sales tax returns, and one felony count of tax evasion. 

The indictments allege Sanchez willfully attempted to evade paying the state of Tennessee’s sales tax through false returns filed on the restaurant’s behalf from March 2015 through November 2017. Sanchez is being held on $35,000 bond.

“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity,” Tennessee Department of Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. “This indictment underscores the department’s ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee’s tax laws.”

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws, as well as the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The department collects about 87% of the state’s total revenue. During the 2020 fiscal year, it collected $15.1 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $3.2 billion in taxes and fees for local governments.

Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee’s revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hotline at 1-800-372-8389.