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October 17, 2003

Tallahassee Businesswoman Arrested in $8,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Tallahassee party service company has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $8,000 in sales tax she collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Dora Crain, 47, of Tallahassee, turned herself in to the Leon County Sheriff's Department Friday on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, she faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Crain operates Party Pleasers of Tallahassee, Inc., at 3048-B W. Tharpe Street in Tallahassee.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Crain routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods between January 2002 and May 2003, Crain failed to send in to the state at least $8,215.94 in tax that she had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. According to investigators, Crain said that she used the stolen tax money to pay business expenses. DOR revenue specialists attempted to help Crain come into compliance with state tax law, but she failed to meet her legal obligations.

"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 Tallahassee at 850-922-2666.