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March 3, 2008

Mattress and Furniture Store Owners Arrested in over $42,000 Tax Theft case

The owners of a Dade County and a Monroe County mattress and furniture business have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $42,000 in sales tax they collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Norberto Gomez, Jr., 25, Noemi C. Gomez, 22, and Norberto Gomez, Sr., 45, all of Homestead, were arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department on February 29 on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, they face 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 Gomezes also face charges related to failure to file tax returns and failure to collect tax as required by law. The Gomezes operated Mattress to Go, LLC, 104001 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida, Gomez Furniture, Inc. at the same address, South Dade Mattress, Naranja, Florida, Redland Mattress, Miami Springs, Florida, and three other Mattress to Go stores in Miami and Hialeah, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, the Gomezes routinely collected tax from customers at their businesses. However, during various periods between April 2004 and October 2007, the Gomezes failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that the Gomezes had illegally kept $42,517.72 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 Miami at 305-513-3446.