This WRCB photo showed Rick Tyler's campaign sign off Highway 411 in Polk County.

A Polk County, Tennessee, business owner and former independent congressional candidate faces felony charges in a grand jury indictment handed up Monday charging him with tax evasion and theft between $10,000 and $60,000.

Richard Tyler Jr., 63, grabbed headlines across the nation in 2016 with his congressional campaign billboard slogan "Make America White Again," but this time he's noted for allegations contained in an indictment that landed him behind bars. Tyler is being held on $30,000 bond.

According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the agency's Special Investigations Section conducted the probe that led to Tyler's indictment and arrest. The tax evasion charge is a misdemeanor.

Tyler was the former owner of Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, Tennessee, officials said. Tyler was a candidate in 2016 for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District in an unsuccessful run at the time against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

some text
Photo contributed by the Polk County Sheriff's Office / Richard Tyler Jr., 63, is charged with theft between $10,000 and $60,000 and tax evasion.

"The Department of Revenue has always been committed to making sure Tennessee's tax laws and procedures are applied uniformly to ensure fairness," Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said in the statement. "We can never allow individuals engaged in fraudulent tax activity to have a competitive advantage over honest Tennesseans."

If convicted, Tyler could be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison and fined up to $10,000 for theft of property and up to two years and fined $3,000 for tax evasion, officials said.

The department is pursuing the criminal case in cooperation with 10th Judicial District Attorney General Stephen Crump's office, officials said.

Anyone who suspects violations of Tennessee's revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at 800-372-8389. To learn more about the department, visit


Polk County, Tennessee congressional candidate wants to 'Make America White Again'

Drive Out Hate billboards push message of love in Bradley, Polk counties

Fleischmann, DesJarlais keep seats in Congress

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at