Two Green Hills tobacco store owners were placed on probation after pleading guilty to tax evasion and theft charges in Davidson County Criminal Court on Thursday.
Essam H. Eshak and his brother-in-law Guirguis K. Awad faced four counts of conspiring to evade sales tax, a class E felony, after they failed to pay the state $92,011.97 from 2004 to 2007, according to a statement from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
Awad also pleaded guilty to one count of theft of property, more than $60,000, a class B felony.
Following their guilty pleas, Awad was sentenced to eight years in the state penitentiary, while Eshak received a four-year sentence. Both, however, had their sentences suspended and were put on supervised probation. The plea agreement requires Awad and Eshak to make full restitution to the state.
Awad and Eshak allegedly filed fraudulent sales tax returns from January 2004 through June 2007 for Ragig Tobacco Store at 4111C Hillsboro Pike.
“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity," said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. "This investigation underscores our department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."
A Davidson County grand jury handed down the indictments Dec. 3. The Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Special Investigations Section conducted the investigation against Awad and Eshak.