For Immediate Release: Feb. 17, 2012
Chef Wendell Price Sentenced to Three Years Jail Time on
Tennessee Tax Evasion and Theft Charges
Memphis, Tenn. - On February 16, 2012, Shelby County Criminal Court Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., ordered Wendell Price, former owner of Wendell's World Beat Grill restaurant in Memphis, to serve a three year jail sentence for violating probation relating to his tax evasion and theft conviction. Price was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Houston, Texas on January 26, 2012. He was returned to Memphis to face charges.
Price was on court-ordered probation resulting from his January 12, 2010, conviction of Tennessee sales tax fraud and theft charges. The probation agreement required Price to pay full restitution to the Tennessee Department of Revenue in the amount of $31,302, obtain full-time employment or perform ten hours per week of community service until employment was secured, and truthfully report all tax information to the state if he ever owned or operated another business. The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to Price's conviction.
"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."
Prosecution of this criminal case was pursued by the department in cooperation with District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich. Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee's revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).
In addition to collecting state taxes, $2.0 billion of local sales and business taxes were collected by the department for local governments during the 2011 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.