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September 18, 2002

Former Owners of St. Augustine Auto Shop Arrested in $18,000 Sales Tax Theft

The owners of a St. Augustine car repair business have been arrested on charges of stealing sales taxes that they collected from customers but never paid to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Department announced.

David Meeks, 47, of Kokomo, Indiana, and Shirley Meeks, 41, also of Kokomo, were arrested Wednesday by the Kokomo Police Department on a felony charge related to tax theft. If convicted, each 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. Shirley and David Meeks operated Atlantic Services and Dave's Atlantic Services on Dobbs Road in St. Augustine. The business is no longer in operation.

According to Revenue Department investigators, David and Shirley Meeks routinely collected sales tax from customers who did business with their auto shop. By state law, sales tax becomes the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, during a period from September to December 2000, the couple failed to send in $18,783.42 in sales tax that they had collected. Revenue Department officials arranged for the couple to pay back the missing taxes, but the couple defaulted on the agreement. Afterward, the couple left St. Augustine and moved to Kokomo, Indiana. The couple 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.