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May 11, 2005

Margate Security Service Operator Arrested in $102,000 Tax Theft Case

TALLAHASSEE -- The owner of a Margate security service has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $102,000 in sales tax she collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Otra J. King, 43, of Plantation, Florida, was arrested by investigators of the Florida Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud on Wednesday. King faces a felony theft charge stemming from her failure to file returns and pay tax. She was held at the Broward County Jail. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, as well as repayment of stolen tax, interest and investigative costs.

In addition, King faces felony charges of failure to have workers' compensation insurance. King operated Metro Security Services at 5665 NW 29th Street, Margate, Florida. The business remains open under a new name, the Metro Security Agency, Inc.

According to Revenue Department investigators, King routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, between August 2000 and August 2003, King failed to send in to the state the sales taxes that she had collected. Investigators found that King had illegally kept $102,400.28 in sales tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. Revenue Department staff repeatedly advised King of her obligation to comply with state tax law, but she failed to meet her legal obligations.

"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Tax cheats steal money that the public pays to support vital public services, such as law enforcement and education. They also steal a competitive advantage over honest businesspeople who pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue cannot and will not allow this to occur."

If you have information about tax theft, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Coral Springs at 954-346-2850.