KNOXVILLE — The owner of the beleaguered Oneida Family Motel has been indicted by a Knox County grand jury on 26 felony charges following an investigation by state authorities.
Chris A. Yousif, 56, turned himself in to state authorities on Wednesday, after being indicted on 25 counts of sales tax fraud and one count of theft over $10,000.
The indictment was returned by the grand jury following an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Revenue's Special Investigations Section.
The investigation was related to Yousif's ownership of Quality Motors in Knox County.
The tax fraud charges are Class E felonies, each of which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and $3,000 fine. The theft charge is a Class C felony, with a maximum prison sentence of six years and a $10,000 fine.
"The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity," said Tennessee Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano. "This indictment underscores the department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."
Yousif is involved in several business ventures, including the Oneida Family Motel. The motel was ordered closed in April after Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton issued a temporary injunction in response to a petition filed by 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler. That petition followed an investigation by Oneida Police Department that revealed ongoing criminal complaints.
Last month, 8th Judicial District Chancellor Elizabeth Asbury, hearing the case on Sexton's behalf, issued an order allowing the motel to reopen under stringent requirements. The order followed an agreement between Yousif, Effler and Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton. In the agreement, Yousif conceded that the motel was a public nuisance, and agreed to a laundry list of changes that would essentially stop local tenants from taking up long-term residence at the motel.
The motel has not yet implemented a number of the nuisances stipulated by the court. Sources have said that the motel is being marketed for prospective buyers.