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August 8, 2008

Mobile Home Dealership Arrested in over $234,909.00 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Putnam County mobile home dealership has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $234,909.00 in sales tax she collected from customers and failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Patricia D. Wilson, 48, of Perry, was arrested by the Bradford County Sheriff's Department on August 2 on felony charges relating to filing false or fraudulent sales tax returns and theft of sales tax. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ms. Wilson operated Sunrise Homes of Palatka, Inc., 302 South U.S. Highway 17 Palatka, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Wilson routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods between July 2003 and April 2007, she failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected and filed false or fraudulent sales tax returns with the Department of Revenue. Investigators found that she had illegally kept $234,909.00 in tax money. 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 Alachua at 383-418-4415.