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Federal agents raid Knoxville business, remove large number of boxes

8:40 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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A Knoxville business is under federal investigation, although the reason for it is unclear. 

Federal agents showed up around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday to the West Knox County office of Service Provider Group, a "Professional Employer Organization" or "POE" that outsources services to small and medium-sized businesses.

An IRS spokesperson confirmed with 10News that the IRS Criminal Investigation office and the FBI were at the Parkside Plaza building that is home to SPG as part of an official investigation.  10News crews also saw U.S. Treasury Agents on scene.

The IRS has not released any additional information as to the nature of the investigation.  According to the agency's website, the IRS is in the process of cracking down on tax identity theft and refund fraud cases nation-wide.

Several employees of SPG, and other employees of businesses that are also in Parkside Plaza, told 10News that between 20 and 50 agents showed up first thing Thursday morning.  10News has heard from several SPG employees that agents escorted them out of the building, and they were told to go home.

A person who works inside the building, but is not an SPG employee, told 10News he saw agents take what looked like computer forensics gear, empty boxes, and several dollies inside.

Agents spent the entire day at SPG's offices.  Just before 5:30 p.m., a group of agents came out a side door rolling five carts of document boxes.  There appeared to be at least 60 boxes in total.  

According to SPG's website, as a PEO it enters in to co-worker relationships with other businesses, providing them with employees that manage human resources, payroll, and employee benefits.  Some former SPG clients have told 10News, and records show, that the CEO is Zebbie "Joe" Usher.

In addition to its Knoxville office, SPG also has offices in Chattanooga, Johnson City, and three offices in Florida.  10News called several of those offices on Thursday; employees said they knew about the raid in Knoxville, but could not comment.

10News also called the Knoxville office, but no one answered the phone.  Late Thursday afternoon, 10News received an email from an address called "my spg" that was written by a person who identified themselves as "An SPG Representative."  The email reads: "We provide quality services and will continue to provide quality services and are cooperating with authorities."

The representative also confirmed that the Knoxville office was the only SPG location that federal officials raided on Thursday.  The other five offices were open for business as usual. 

An SPG employee in Knoxville told 10News that their supervisor notified them late Thursday to come to work on Friday morning. 

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An IRS spokesperson confirmed with 10News that the IRS Criminal Investigation office and FBI conducted an official investigation at Service Provider Group Thursday morning.

The company is located on the 11400 block of Parkside Drive in West Knoxville.

According to their website, Service Provider Group is a consulting and administrative firm, specializing in payroll administration, risk management, and insurance.

10News has a crew on scene and will bring you more information as this story develops.

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