Retired Rogersville businessman indicted for theft, tax evasion

Jeff Bobo • Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 2:01 PM

CORRECTION: Philip Henard was never the owner of Otis' Home Center. His parents, Otis and Dorothy Henard were the owners. Otis passed away in 2002 and Dorothy became the sole proprietor. She passed in April 2015 just before the going out of business sale was completed. Philip was just the manager, never the owner.

ROGERSVILLE — Retired Rogersville businessman Philip Henard was arrested Wednesday morning on a sealed Hawkins County grand jury indictment charging him with theft over $10,000 and four counts of sales tax evasion.

Henard previously owned and operated the Otis Home Center on Armstrong Street in Rogersville, which closed in 2015 when Henard retired.

The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and arrest of Henard, 64.

On Monday, the Hawkins County grand jury indicted Henard on four Class E felony counts of sales tax evasion and one Class C felony count of theft of property over $10,000 but not more than $60,000.

Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong didn’t have the paperwork handy Wednesday, although he told the Times News the exact theft amount alleged was closer to the $60,000 threshold.

The tax evasion counts were for the months of January, February March and May of 2015, while the time period listed for the theft charge was Jan. 1 to June 21, 2015.

During that time period Otis Home Center was having a “going out of business sale.” Armstrong told the Times News that Henard’s customers paid the full amount of sales tax for that time period, but Henard under-reported and under-paid sales tax to the state.

“The Department of Revenue received a tip, and they started investigating,” Armstrong said. “They investigated more months than what they charged, but the records were hard to put together for previous months. But, for those particular months they were able to piece together the records.”

If convicted, Henard could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $3,000 for each count of tax evasion. He could be sentenced to a maximum six years in the state penitentiary and fined up to $10,000 for the theft charge.

“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity," Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. "This indictment underscores the Department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."

Henard was booked into the Hawkins County Jail shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday and released on $30,000 bond.

He is scheduled for arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court on April 26.

Henard made headlines in 2017 when he claimed that President Donald Trump had accepted a quitclaim deed of about an acre of land in an undeveloped subdivision owned by Henard west of Rogersville.

At the time, Henard told the Times News that the Trump Organization was a willing participant in the deal and would accept the property located in a rural undeveloped subdivision near Cherokee Raceway Park west of Rogersville.

Shortly after the deed’s existence became public knowledge, however, the Trump Organization issued the following statement: “Neither The Trump Organization nor any individual Trump family member has anything to do with this.”

A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument that is used to transfer interest in real property. The entity transferring its interest is called the grantor, and when the quitclaim deed is properly completed and executed, it transfers any interest the grantor has in the property to a recipient, called the grantee.

This past Jan. 17, Third Judicial District Chancellor Doug Jenkins signed an order voiding a 2017 quitclaim deed which Henard had filed for an acre of land on behalf of the Trump Organization.

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