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March 21, 2011

Couple Arrested for Sales Tax Theft and Failure to File Six Consecutive Returns

Brett W. Hyde, 48, of Naples, and Kathryn M. L. Gravitt, 24, of Port Charlotte have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $37,000 in sales tax they collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, as well as two counts of failure to file six consecutive returns, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Ms. Gravitt was arrested by the Collier County Sheriff’s Department on March 17, 2011. Mr. Hyde was arrested by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department on March 18, 2011. Both were arrested on felony charges relating to theft of state funds and failure to file six consecutive returns. If convicted, the pair 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 couple were co-owners of Sun Harbor Marine located at 3150 Placida Road in Englewood.

According to Revenue Department investigators, the couple collected tax from customers at their business which specialized in the sale of boats. However, during various periods starting in 2008 and lasting through periods in 2010, they failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that they had collected and failed to file tax returns as required by law. 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 Vickers, 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 Ft. Myers at 239-338-2425.

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.