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April 13, 2010

Owners of a Pensacola Auto Painting and Collision Repair Shop Arrested in Theft Case

The husband and wife owners of an Escambia County auto painting and collision repair shop have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $63,000 in sales tax they collected from customers and failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Shannon Janssen, 37 and his wife Heather Janssen, 39, both of Pensacola, surrendered to deputies of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department on Monday and Tuesday on felony charges relating to theft of state funds. 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, and investigative costs. They own and operate E & B's Futures, LLC, doing business as Beach Auto Painting and Collision, 1705 West Fairfield Drive, Pensacola, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, they routinely collected tax from customers at their business. However, during various periods between May 2005 and January 2009, they failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that they had collected. Investigators found that they had illegally kept over $63,000 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 Pensacola at 850-595-5188.