Raleigh Businessman Guilty of State Tax Charges

Date: 1/9/2004

RALEIGH – A Raleigh businessman pleaded guilty today in Wake County District Court to tax evasion charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

William James Shepard, 54, of 12132 Pawleys Mill Circle, Raleigh, entered guilty pleas to nine felony counts of attempting to evade or defeat the North Carolina sales tax.

Wake County District Court Judge Mike Morgan sentenced Shepard to four consecutive six-month minimum, eight-month maximum prison terms. The sentences were suspended and Shepard was placed on supervised probation for 60 months. Shepard was ordered to pay a $4,500 criminal fine and restitution of the tax due to the Department of Revenue. He must also perform 150 hours of community service. Shepard paid $40,000 toward his restitution when his plea was entered.

The state's evidence showed that Shepard owned and operated Diamond's Bridal & Formal of 2431-152 Spring Forest Road in Raleigh. Shepard charged and collected sales taxes from his customers but never registered with the Department of Revenue to report or remit the taxes due. Shepard told investigators that the state's money was in his business and that he knew the sales tax was owed. He stated that he planned to pay the sales taxes when he was caught. Shepard misapplied $134,737 in North Carolina and Wake County sales taxes that he used for business and personal expenses.

The charges against Shepard resulted from an investigation by an auditor with the Department of Revenue's Raleigh Examinations Office and a special agent with the Department's Criminal Investigations Division.

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