Wilson Businessman Guilty of State Tax Charges; Receives Active Sentence

Date: 2/22/2006

RALEIGH – A Wilson businessman pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court to felony tax charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Edward R. Mitchell, 59 of 1704 Westbrook Drive, Wilson, pleaded guilty on Feb. 22, 2006 to two counts of aiding or assisting in the attempt to evade or defeat the North Carolina and Wilson County sales tax, and one count of aiding or assisting in the attempt to evade or defeat the North Carolina withholding tax. He was the owner of Mitchell’s Ribs, Chicken and Barbecue, located in Wilson.

Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson, Jr. sentenced Mitchell to three six-month minimum, eight-month maximum prison terms. The sentences were suspended and he was placed on supervised probation for 36 months. As a special condition of probation, Mitchell was ordered to serve a 30-day active prison sentence and pay a $300 criminal fine. Mitchell paid restitution of $76,018.64 to the Department of Revenue before his sentencing.

The state’s evidence showed that Mitchell’s Ribs, Chicken & Barbecue, LLC charged and collected $62,965.64 in state and Wilson County sales taxes, and withheld $13,053 in North Carolina income taxes from his employees’ wages that were not remitted to the Department of Revenue. Mitchell, the responsible person for the business, aided and abetted the corporation to embezzle and misapply these funds by using them to pay personal and business expenses.

Mitchell was arrested on tax charges before in 1998 and again in 2000 for failure to pay sales and withholding taxes. The 1998 case was dismissed when he testified that his mother was responsible for the payment of the taxes. In 2000, he received a deferred prosecution for the failure to pay taxes but failed to comply with the terms of the agreement. He pleaded guilty to the charges and appealed the case to Superior Court. The case was dismissed when he paid the approximately $50,000 in outstanding taxes due.

The charges against Mitchell resulted from an investigation by the Department’s Rocky Mount Collections Office and a special agent with the Department’s Criminal Investigations Division in Raleigh.

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