April 28, 2010
The owners of Monroe County convenience store businesses have been arrested on charges that they stole sales tax they collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.
Ariful Haque, 47, of Parkland, Mohammed Abdul Mannan, 42, of Key West, Mohammed Aminur Rahman, 30, of Key West surrendered to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department between April 23 and April 27 on felony charges relating to white collar crime, money laundering, failure to file tax returns and pay tax. Mohammed Maksudur Rahman, 53, of Naples surrendered to Collier County authorities. Abdul Q. Miah, 66, of Key West has arranged to surrender himself on April 28 to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. A sixth defendant, Khadija Arif, 38, is currently out of the country. If convicted, all face up to 30 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines for the aggravated white collar crime, which is the commission of any fraudulent act or conspiracy to commit any fraudulent act that victimizes in the amount of $50,000 or more. Haque, Mannan, and the Rahmans face up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 for each of 18 felony counts, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs in the operation of Joined Islands, Inc. doing business as Kickin Back Food Mart, 21362 Overseas Highway, Cudjoe Key, Florida. In addition, Haque, Mannan, Miah and Arif face felony charges relating to sales tax violations in the operation of Treasure Coast West, Inc. doing business as Sunbeam Market, 500 White Street, and Arif USA, Inc. doing business as Caroline Street Market, 712 Caroline Street, both in Key West.
According to Revenue Department investigators, the owners routinely collected tax from customers at Kickin Back Food Mart. However, during various periods between August 2006 and December 2007, they failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that they had collected. Investigators found that they had illegally kept $11,890.17 in tax money. Investigators also found that in the operation of the Sunbeam and Caroline Street Markets, taxable merchandise was regularly sold and the sales tax was not sent in to the state as required. 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 Key West at 305-293-1589.