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October 23, 2012

Former Shoe Store Owner Arrested In Theft Case

John T. Baumbach, former owner of Designer Shoe Gallerie, that had locations in Fort Myers and Cape Coral, has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $6,000 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mr. Baumbach, 75, who lives in Fort Myers, was arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Department on October 19, 2012 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he 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. Mr. Baumbach's business locations were: 9902 Gulf Coast Town Center Main Street in Fort Myers; and 1019 Cape Coral Parkway East and 900 South West Pine Island Road, both in Cape Coral.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Baumbach collected tax from customers at his stores. However, during various periods beginning in 2008 and lasting through periods in 2011, he failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

“It is an honor to serve the vast majority of Florida businesses who comply with State tax requirements,” said Marshall Stranburg, Interim 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 Fort Myers at 239-338-2425.

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.