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Press Release

Joe Usher Pleads Guilty To Federal Tax Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

Former Owner of Knoxville Employee Leasing Company Faces Potential Prison Term and Obligation to Pay Restitution

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Zebbie Joe Usher, III, 46, of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded guilty on June 2, 2014, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville, to a two-count information charging him with tax evasion and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. The Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Judge, scheduled a status conference for Sept. 15, 2014, at which time a date for sentencing will be scheduled.

Usher faces a possible prison term of up to 10 years, along with up to $500,000 in fines and the requirement to pay more than $29 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Usher was previously the chief executive officer of Service Provider Group and was involved in the management of a number of companies, known as professional employer organizations (PEOs), which were engaged in the employee leasing and payroll processing business. According to a plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, the PEOs collected federal payroll taxes from employees and were required to turn over those funds to the IRS in a timely manner. However, instead of doing so, Usher and his unnamed co-conspirators used the funds for other company expenses and personal expenditures. In an attempt to avoid discovery of their nonpayment of payroll taxes, Usher and his co-conspirators submitted false documents to the IRS.

Usher’s guilty plea is the result of an ongoing investigation by the IRS and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Frank M. Dale, Jr. represents the United States.

Updated March 18, 2015