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February 28, 2005

Mt. Dora Marketing Company Owner Arrested in $70,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Mt. Dora marketing company has been arrested on charges that he stole almost $70,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Gary Lee Carney, 40, of Eustis, turned himself into the Lake County Sheriff's Department on Saturday to face felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. 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. Carney operates Anchor Promotional Marketing, doing business as The Company Link, at 848 N. Donnelly St., Mt. Dora, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Carney routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between February 2003 and mid-2004, Carney failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Carney had illegally kept $69,912.27 in sales tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. In court records, DOR investigators said that Carney admitted stealing state sales tax receipts to keep the business operating.

"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Tax cheats steal money that the public pays to support vital public services, such as law enforcement and education. They also steal a competitive advantage over honest businesspeople who pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue cannot and will not allow this to occur. "

If you have information about tax theft, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Maitland at 407-475-1252.