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February 20, 2008

Restaurant - Night Club Owner Arrested in over $24,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Broward County restaurant and night club has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $24,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Richard C. Johnson, 53, of Parkland, was arrested by the Miramar Police Department on February 18, 2008, on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Johnson operated Peppers Caf, Inc., 3828 N. University Drive, Sunrise, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Johnson routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between February 2004 through February 2007, Johnson failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Johnson had illegally kept $24,406.30 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"Most Florida businesses do an excellent job of meeting the state's requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax, which pays for services Floridians need," said Lisa Echeverri, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "Individuals who collect tax but don't send it in are stealing taxpayer dollars and gaining an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses. It's our job to ensure that Florida's tax laws are administered fairly."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Coral Springs at 954-346-2905.