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The federal government has levied tax liens against at least two judicial Knox County candidates and a civil judgment was issued against a third.

Records show that Patti Jane Lay, a Republican seeking the circuit court judge Div. IV seat, owes a combined $58,069.11 in individual income taxes from 2000 through 2003. The federal lien was filed against her four years ago, according to records in the Knox County Register of Deeds Office.

One lien is against her and husband, John Baugh, for $46,700. The other is against her for $11,300.

Lay called the liens "a clerical mistake" that "involves a partnership return prepared and filed by someone else that contains other individual's tax information."

She gave WBIR a copy of a Dec. 19, 2005 letter from the IRS that suggested that the unpaid taxes connected to her and her husband had been fixed.

She said that in 2010 she appealed the IRS's claims that she owed the $11,300 in taxes. She said that the IRS mistakenly recorded her as single and went after her even though she filed jointly with her husband.

"I figured that the (appeal) was the end of it, that they were satisfied," she said.

Lay's CPA, her brother Edwin Lay, in a written statement to WBIR said "the procedure to correct the processing error has been initiated through the proper channels with the IRS."

Lay faces Greg McMillan in the May Republican primary. The winner will move on to the August general election to face the winner of the Democratic primary: either Daniel Kidd or David Valone.

In addition to Lay, local attorney Steve Williams who is running for the criminal court clerk's seat has tax issues that he's addressing.

Federal liens filed in 2008 and 2011 show that Williams owes a combined $24,562.89 in taxes from 2003-05. Records show that Williams didn't pay federal unemployment taxes for his business, individual income taxes and he faced penalties for failing to file the correct information.

Williams said he's paying off the tax debt and he owed about $16,000 at this point.

He said his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001. He said the medicine she needed "was extremely expensive and I got behind." Williams said that at the time he paid more than $3,300 a month for insurance.

"It just killed me," he said. "It was either get her the insurance and medicine of pay taxes." He added: "We ran into some financial problems but I'm paying it off each month."

Also, Blount County's Tennessee Endoscopy Center in May 2013 received a judgment against him for $2,368.58.

Williams faces Mike Hammond and Jason Hunnicutt in the Republican primary. Incumbent Joy McCroskey opted not to seek re-election. No Democrats filed to run, so whoever wins the May primary will begin serving a four-year term at the beginning of September.

A civil judgment also was issued against Clarence "Eddie" Pridemore, a Republican attorney who will face Daryl Fansler, a Democrat and incumbent for the Chancellor, Part II seat in the August general election.

GE Monday Bank in May 2011 received a judgment against Pridemore for a Lowe's credit card debt totaling $3,709.66.

Pridemore said he initially wasn't aware that it was filed against him. He said he then tried to work out a payment arrangement but the company declined, "so I could never come to a payment term with them."

"I had two throat surgeries at the time and I was in a financial crunch and in law school at the time," he said.
So far, he said, he hasn't paid off the debt.

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