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April 28, 2009

Local Restaurant Owner Arrested for Theft of Sales Taxes

The former owner of a Jefferson county sub sandwich shop has been arrested on charges that she stole sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Demetria Melise Pope, 48, of Monticello, turned herself in to the Jefferson County Jail on April 24, 2009 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, she faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fine, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ms. Pope owned and operated J.A.M. United doing business as Jake’s Subs & Grill, 180 West Washington Street, Monticello.

According to Department of Revenue investigators, Ms. Pope routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods in 2007, she failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Investigators found that Ms. Pope had illegally kept more than $6,900.00. 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
Tallahassee at 850-922-2671.