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October 31, 2007

Clothing Store Owner Arrested in over $16,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Duval County clothing store owner has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $16,000 in sales tax she collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Sherita Latonya Blaylock, 29, of Jacksonville, was arrested by the Clay County Sheriffs Department on October 25 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. Blaylock operated Urban Profile, Inc., 5000 Norwood Avenue, #16, Jacksonville.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Blaylock routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods between November 2002 and January 2005, Blaylock failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Investigators found that Blaylock had illegally kept $16,852.44 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"According to law, all businesses are required to pay the taxes they owe the state," said Lisa Echeverri, Executive Director of the Revenue Department. "Individuals that dont pay are stealing money paid by taxpayers needed to support vital public services in Florida, such as law enforcement and education. They also steal a competitive advantage over honest businesspeople that pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue 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.