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September 9, 2013

Longwood Car Lot Owner Arrested

Latrice Stacia Bilal, 28, owner of Franchise Auto Sales, Inc., has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $60,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Ms. Bilal, who lives in Sanford, was arrested by the Seminole County Sheriff's Department on September 6, 2013 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds and failure to file sales and use tax returns. 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.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Bilal collected sales tax from customers of her business. However, during various periods beginning in November 2010 through March 2013, she failed to send the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected from her customers. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. Franchise Auto Sales is located at 1400 South Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Longwood.

“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 Maitland at 407-475-1250.

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.