Tennessee lawmaker convicted on felony charge in tax case
A Tennessee lawmaker has been convicted of fraud after failing to pay taxes on a windfall of more than $300,000 he made through cigarette tax stamps, buying low and then selling high after the legislature raised their prices.
A jury in Knoxville convicted state Rep. Joe Armstrong of filing a false tax return but acquitted him of tax evasion and conspiracy charges, according to media reports.
Prosecutors accused the veteran Democratic lawmaker of conspiring with his accountant to hide the transactions, which Armstrong made before and after a cigarette tax hike he advocated and voted for.
Armstrong testified that he had been swindled by the accountant, who became a prosecution witness after pleading guilty to a related fraud charge.
Prosecutors say he faces up to three years in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office in Knoxville said additional penalties could include up to a $250,000 fine, restitution and supervised release of up to one year.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 30.