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Owner of Talladega, Oxford and Heflin convenience stores pleads guilty to not remitting sales tax

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The owner of several area convenience stores has pleaded guilty to not remitting sales taxes to the state of Alabama.

Mihirkumar Patel, 33, was indicted by a Calhoun County grand jury in December 2019 on several charges arising out of his operation of Oxford Liquor King, Talladega Stop and Shop and Heflin Stop N Shop. Patel had previously been arrested in Texas on these charges in 2019 and brought to the Calhoun County Jail by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department in 2020 before being released on bond, according to a news release issued by the Alabama Department of Revenue on Thursday.

After pleading guilty, Patel was ordered to pay the state $50,370.54 in restitution for the sales tax evaded, fraud penalties and interest. Patel received a sentence of 60 months that was suspended based on payment of the tax, penalties, and interest, and 36 months of unsupervised probation.

Patel had owned and operated these stores since incorporating in Alabama in 2011, according to the release, and as the store owner, he failed to properly report and pay over to the state sales taxes he collected from customers.

He also willfully failed to file returns in multiple years for the corporation under which he operated the convenience stores and his individual returns for the same years.

State sales tax revenue is earmarked for the Education Trust Fund and is one of the fund’s major funding components.

“This negatively impacts the state, cities, and counties. I can assure you, there will be more prosecutions in the coming months,” Curtis E. Stewart, Deputy Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Revenue said in the release.

“If you are a convenience store owner who is not filing and paying income tax returns, who is evading sales tax, or who is smuggling untaxed tobacco products into Alabama, you will be caught and prosecuted,” Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett said in the release.