September 9, 2005
The owner of a Clearwater audio-video sales and installation business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $44,000 in sales taxes that he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.
John J. Miani III, 43, of Oldsmar, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriffs Office on Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 on felony charges relating to failure to pay tax. 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. Miani operated Miani Audio-Video Installations, Inc., doing business at 27954 U.S. Highway 19 North in Clearwater. The business is now closed.
According to Revenue Department investigators, Miani routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between February 2002 and October 2002, Miani failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Miani had illegally kept $44,123.71in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. DOR staff repeatedly visited and called Miani in an attempt to help him come into compliance with state tax law, but he failed to meet repeated promises to meet his legal obligations. Employees at the business testified that Miani used business proceeds for personal expenses.
"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 Clearwater at 727-524-4369.