Elizabeth City Businessman Guilty of State Tax Charges

Date: 7/8/2005

RALEIGH -- An Elizabeth City man pleaded guilty Thursday in Wake County District Court to felony tax charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Walter Lawrence East, 44, of 206 Hathaway St. in Elizabeth City entered a guilty plea to one count of attempting to evade or defeat North Carolina individual income tax withholding. East, the owner of Walter’s Welding and Repair, and his wife, Misty Williams East, the bookkeeper for the business, were initially charged with embezzling state property. The charge against Mrs. East was dismissed in exchange for Mr. East’s guilty plea to the tax evasion charge.

The state’s evidence showed that from Jan. 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2004, $23,838.92 in North Carolina individual income tax was withheld from the wages of employees of Walter’s Welding and Repair. However, the money was not remitted to the Department of Revenue. East misapplied the funds by using them to operate the business and to pay personal living expenses. In addition, the state introduced evidence that East was convicted of failure to file and failure to pay withholding taxes in September 1993.

Wake County District Court Judge Jane P. Gray sentenced East to an eight-month minimum, 10-month maximum prison term. The sentence was suspended and East was placed on supervised probation for 36 months. He was ordered to serve 12 weekends in the Wake County Detention Center as a special condition of his probation. East paid $13,838.92 to the Department of Revenue in court and was ordered to pay an additional $10,000 within two weeks. East was also ordered to pay a $250 criminal fine and to perform 75 hours of community service. He must also timely file and pay all future taxes due.

The charge against the Easts resulted from an investigation by the Elizabeth City Revenue Office and the Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigations Division.

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