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June 20, 2011

Tampa Man Arrested for Sales Tax Theft

Pedro J Rodriguez Jr., 47, of Tampa, has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $35,000 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mr. Rodriguez was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department on June 18, 2011 concerning felony charges relating to theft of state funds and failing to file six consecutive tax returns. If convicted, he 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. Mr. Rodriguez is the owner of Brothers Paint Auto Body and Car Sales, Inc., located at 6425 North Florida Avenue in Tampa.

According to Revenue Department investigators Mr. Rodriguez collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods starting in 2007 and lasting through periods in 2011, he failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected and failed to file tax returns as required by law. 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 Vickers, 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 Tampa at 813-744-6506.

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.