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October 2, 2002

Fort Myers Rental Manager Arrested in $43,000 Sales Tax Theft Case

The operator of a Fort Myers rental-property manager has been arrested on charges of stealing sales taxes that she collected from customers but never paid to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Revonda S. Cross, 44, of Fort Myers, turned herself in to the Lee County Sheriff's Department Friday on a felony charge of sales tax theft. 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. Cross operated Properties In Paradise, Inc., a rental property management company.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Cross routinely collected sales tax on rentals of property between February 2000 and April 2001. However, during nine months of that period, Cross intentionally failed to send in $43,175.95 in tax that she had collected from her customers, investigators said. Cross used the tax money for personal and business use, thus keeping her business active, 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 Fort Myers at 941-338-2429.