Wrecker service operators sentenced in IRS case

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

   The operators of a Bristol wrecker service were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville after pleading guilty in March to one count each of filing false tax returns.
   Charles "Eddie" Fritts and his ex-wife, Linda Fritts, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Hull, according to Harry S. Mattice Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Clayton L. Cooper, special agent for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Nashville.
   Charles Fritts was ordered to serve 13 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution to the IRS after he pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return for 1994.
   Linda Fritts was ordered to serve six months' home detention, followed by three years' probation, and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the IRS. She pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for 1996.
   The Fritts were indicted March 29, 2001, on one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, and three counts of filing false tax returns for calendar years 1994-96.
   According to the indictment, the Fritts concealed most of the cash received from customers of Edgemont Wrecker Service, located in Bristol, Tenn., by dealing in cash and not depositing the funds to their bank accounts.
   According to the Agreed Factual Basis filed in court for their plea, both Charles and Linda filed joint tax returns for 1994 through 1996 and failed to report more than $183,000 in gross receipts from the day-to-day operations of Edgemont Wrecker Service and from the sale of used furniture. The omissions resulted in a tax loss to the federal government of more than $55,000.
   Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Shults prosecuted the case for the government. The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.