Attorney General Schwalb Secures Criminal Tax Fraud Conviction Against District Business Owner & $450K+ in Restitution for DC

Owner of Turning Natural Juice Bar Chain Pled Guilty to Tax Fraud Charge and Will Pay Back Taxes, Penalties & Interest

WASHINGTON, DC - Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today announced that Jerri Evans, owner of the Turning Natural juice bar chain, pled guilty in Superior Court to one criminal count of failure to pay sales tax for tax years 2017 through 2020, and must pay the District $452,522.07 in back taxes, penalties, and interest. Evans collected sales tax from customers but failed to remit those funds over to the District as required by law.

“The willful failure to pay taxes when they are due deprives the District of needed revenues.  When businesses engage in this type of tax evasion—collecting sales taxes from their customers and then failing to pay them over to the District—they not only harm the District, but they unfairly give themselves an illegal advantage over their competitors who play by the rules,” said Attorney General Schwalb. “This conviction should send a strong message to businesses and residents in the District that if you violate the law and cheat on paying taxes, you will be held accountable.”

“It is vital that all businesses comply with the tax laws of the District of Columbia,” said Keith J. Richardson, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the Office of Tax and Revenue. “The case of Jerri Evans and her failure to remit collected sales taxes from the Turning Natural juice bars is a serious violation of these laws. It is imperative for the integrity of our tax system that all collected taxes are properly turned over to the District as required. This outcome serves as a reminder that tax compliance is not optional and that there are significant consequences for those who fail to meet their obligations."

Jerri Evans owns Turning Natural, a juice bar chain with three locations in DC as well as several locations in Maryland. Under DC law, businesses must collect sales tax and remit it to the District. Restaurant meals are taxable at a rate of 10%. An investigation conducted by the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) determined that Evans had avoided paying monthly sales taxes for three Turning Natural locations during tax years 2017 to 2020. Evans had charged customers a lower sales taxes rate of 5.75% but failed to pay any of the funds to the District. After an audit in 2018, Evans was notified of the incorrect sales tax rate and provided with a final past-due tax assessment in 2019. Evans failed to pay the past due amount and did not pay sales tax in 2019 or through April 2020.  

OAG worked closely with OTR’s Criminal Investigation Division (OTR-CID) to file criminal charges. On May 29, 2024, Evans pled guilty to one count of failure to pay over sales tax in violation of DC Code § 47-4102(b). Evans entered into a payment plan to pay $452,522.07—the full amount owed—to OTR over the next five years. Evans will serve a suspended sentence with a period of supervised probation in order to complete community service and pay restitution.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Taylor Phares of the Public Corruption Section, under the supervision of Peter Saba, Chief of the Criminal Section. In 2024, OAG has secured over $720,000 in restitution orders against business owners that failed to pay required sales tax. OTR Special Agent James Hite led the investigation and was supervised by John Fowler, Chief, OTR-CID, and Robert Passmore, Supervisory Special Agent, OTR-CID. OTR-CID began its investigation based upon a referral from OTR’s Collection Division.

Public Corruption Section
The Public Corruption Section of the Office of the Attorney General’s Public Safety Division focuses on eradicating public corruption—including, but not limited to, bribery, fraud, campaign finance violations, and other forms of misuse and appropriation of government resources. The Section investigates and charges local offenses within its jurisdiction that impact the integrity of government services and undermine public trust.