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February 10, 2010

Former Night Club Owner Arrested for Failing to File Tax Returns and Stealing Taxes

The owner of a Pinellas County adult night club has been arrested on charges that he failed to file state sales tax returns and stole more than $5,600 in sales taxes that he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Randolph R. Lanton II, 40, of Clearwater, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department on December 21, 2009 on felony and misdemeanor charges relating to his failure to file tax returns and pay tax. 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. Lanton, who is also known as "Connor" owned and operated Fantasy Nude, located at 14411 U.S. Highway North in Clearwater, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Lanton routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods in 2007 and 2008, Lanton failed to submit tax returns and send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Lanton had illegally kept $5,600 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"Most Florida businesses do an excellent job of meeting the state's requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax, which pays for services Floridians need," said Lisa Echeverri, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "Individuals who collect tax but don't send it in are stealing taxpayer dollars and gaining an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses. It's our job to ensure that Florida's tax laws are administered fairly."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Clearwater at 727-507-6305.