CATEGORY: Courts

AUTHOR: BOBBY

HED:Lafayette County man pleads guilty in sales tax fraud case

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON - A Lafayette County businessman has pleaded guilty to tax evasion while charges against his wife, who also was indicted, were dropped.

Aaron J. Rawson pleaded guilty recently in Hinds County Circuit Court to the charge of attempting to defeat an assessed tax liability.

In August, Aaron and Stacy Rawson were charged with not paying sales taxes totaling $11,162.82 between September 1992 and January 1996. The sales taxes allegedly were collected through the business they owned, Rawson Cabinet Shop in Lafayette County, according to information provided by the state Tax Commission.

Aaron Rawson pleaded guilty in Hinds County Circuit Court because that's the location of the state Tax Commission.

As part of a plea agreement, Rawson pleaded guilty to two of the four counts in the indictment. He was placed on two years of probation and paid restitution to the Mississippi Tax Commission. Charges were dropped against his wife.

The circuit judge also ordered Rawson "to commit no offense against the laws of this state," according to a news release from the Tax Commission.

The Rawsons could have faced up to five years in prison on each count if they had been convicted.

The plea bargain ends a long-running legal battle for the Rawsons with the state Tax Commission. The battles actually began before the 1992-1996 period for which the Rawsons were indicted.

Before 1992, Sam Corder, director of the criminal investigation division of the Mississippi Tax Commission, said Aaron Rawson had a tax lien placed on his cabinet shop after being accused of not paying $9,464 in sales taxes.

Corder said Rawson is accused of switching the business over to his wife's name and is accused of continuing to operate without paying all the sales taxes owed to the state.

The state collects a 7 percent sales tax on most retail items. A portion of that sales tax is returned to the city where it was collected, but most of it is placed in the Mississippi treasury for the general use of state government.

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