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July 12, 2002

Owner of Jacksonville Pancake Restaurant Arrested in $280,000 Tax Theft

The owner of a Jacksonville International House of Pancakes restaurant has been arrested on charges of stealing more than $280,000 in sales taxes that he collected from customers but never paid to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Cyril G. Childs, 50, of Jacksonville, was arrested Friday by deputies of the Duval County Sheriff's Department on a felony charge of violating tax law. If convicted, Childs faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Childs operates a International House of Pancakes restaurant on Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Childs routinely collected sales tax from customers at his restaurant. Childs also told Revenue Department investigators that he was aware of his responsibility to send in the sales tax money that he collected to the state. By state law, sales tax becomes the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, during various periods from 1997 to 2001, Childs failed to send in $280,504.18 in tax money that he collected, despite repeated attempts by DOR staffers to get him to comply with the law. Childs used the tax money for personal and business use, Revenue Department investigators said.

"To be fair, tax law must apply fairly and uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Businesses that fail to comply with tax law are stealing money that the public pays to support vital services such as education and law enforcement. They also are stealing an unearned, undeserved competitive advantage over honest businesspeople. The Department 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 Jacksonville at 904-359-6667.