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June 12, 2013

Former Club Owner Arrested in Tax Theft Case

Sharon A. Wise, 47, a former co-owner of Ellington's Jazz Club & Restaurant, LLC, located in Sanibel, has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $67,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Ms. Wise, Sanibel, was arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Department on June 10, 2013 on a felony charge relating to theft of sales tax. If convicted, she 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. The club was located at 1244 Periwinkle Way in Sanibel.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Wise collected tax from customers at her club. However, during various periods beginning in 2009 and lasting through periods in 2011, she failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

“It is an honor to serve the vast majority of Florida businesses who comply with State tax requirements,” said Marshall Stranburg, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. “For those that don't, it is our job to enforce the law and ensure honest businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by those who ignore the law or intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars.”

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue Investigations office in Fort Myers at 239-338-2442.

Note: Due to the confidential nature of taxpayer records, generally the information found in this release is the only information available from the Department of Revenue concerning this matter. Other information may be available through the arresting agency and the local Clerk of Court.