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December 12, 2013

St. Petersburg Jewelry Store Owner Arrested

Michael J Faiella, 78, owner of Ami Fine Jewelry, has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $43,000 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mr. Faiella, who lives in St. Petersburg, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department on December 11, 2013, on felony charges relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ami Fine Jewelry was located at 501 5th Avenue NE in St. Petersburg.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Faiella collected sales tax from customers at his jewelry store. However, during various periods in 2009 through 2012, he failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected from his customers. 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, 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 worse intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars.”

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Largo at 727-588-6845

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.