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January 04, 2012

Pensacola Man Charged with Sales Tax Theft

Jamal S. Abdelwahed, 47, former owner of a Pensacola Meineke Car Care Center, has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $24,000 in sales tax he collected from customers, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mr. Abdelwahed, Pensacola, was arrested by the Escambia County Sheriff's Department on January 2, 2012 on a felony charges relating to the theft of state funds and tax evasion. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as, possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. The business was located at 2871 West Michigan Avenue in Pensacola.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Abdelwahed collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods starting in 2009 and lasting through periods in 2010, he failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that they had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"It is an honor to serve the vast majority of Florida businesses who comply with State tax requirements," said Lisa Vickers, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "For those that don't, it is our job to enforce the law and ensure honest businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by those who ignore the law, or worse—intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Pensacola at 850-595-5188.

Note: Due to the confidential nature of taxpayer records, generally the information found in this release is the only information available from the Department of Revenue concerning this matter. Other information may be available through the arresting agency and the local Clerk of Court.