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March 31, 2008

Used Automobile Dealer Arrested in over $15,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Marion County used car sales business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $15,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Louis M. Jabbour, 41, of Mount Dora, was arrested by the Eustis Police Department on March 27, 2008 on 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. Jabbour operated Jabbour, Inc. doing business as Louie’s Auto Sales, 4201 NW Blichton Road, Ocala, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Jabbour routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between January 2004 and December 2006, Jabbour failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Jabbour had illegally kept $15,143.73 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the time 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 Alachua at 386-418-4415.