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October 6, 2004

Former Sarasota Restaurant Owner Arrested in Sales Tax Theft Case

TALLAHASSEE - A businessman who operated a restaurant in Sarasota has been arrested on charges of stealing more than $95,000 in sales taxes that he collected from customers but never sent in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) announced.

Arthur James Deangelis Jr., 50, of Sarasota was arrested Oct. 1 by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department on felony charges in relation to tax theft. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison, fines of $10,000, and repayment of stolen tax, penalty, interest, and investigative costs. Deangelis' arrest follows an investigation by the Department of Revenue. Deangelis operated Second of July, Inc., doing business as the Sandspur Grill, located at 5252 South Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota. The restaurant closed in September 2003.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Deangelis routinely collected sales tax from customers at his business. Under Florida law, sales tax is the property of the state from the moment of collection. Investigators charged that he failed to send in $95,511.13 in sales tax to the state during the period of April 2002 through June 2003, as well as for August 2003 and September 2003.

"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue. "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 investigation office in Fort Myers at 239-338-2433.