December 05, 2002
The owner of a well-known South Florida restaurant chain has pleaded guilty to stealing state sales tax and received a lengthy probation sentence, as well as being required to hand over a $100,000 check to the state revenue department.
Frank Galgano, 47, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty Thursday to one first-degree felony charge of tax theft and two second-degree felony charges brought by Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz's office. The charges related to Galgano's operations of Bobby Rubino's Place for Ribs in Fort Lauderdale, North Lauderdale, and Hallandale. These three restaurants have since been closed. Galgano also operated other restaurants in the same chain in Palm Beach, Martin and Miami-Dade Counties.
Galgano was sentenced to 10 years of probation and was required to repay $248,495.09 in stolen tax as a condition of probation. As a condition of his sentencing, Galgano gave the Department of Revenue a check for $100,000 at the sentencing.
According to Revenue Department investigators, Galgano routinely collected sales tax from customers at his restaurant businesses. Under state law, sales tax becomes the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, an investigation of the business's records showed that Galgano had failed to send in all of the tax payments he had collected during various periods dating from 1997 through early 1999. Investigators said that business was using the stolen tax money to keep the restaurants in operation.
"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 Hollywood at 954-967-1053. The Department offers a reward program for individuals who provide information about tax law violations. For more information, visit the Department website at http://www.myflorida.com/dor/.