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February 12, 2003

Miami Auto Body Shop Ownder Arrested in $27,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Miami auto-body shop has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $27,000 in sales tax that he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Emilio D. Carrero, 37, of Miramar, was arrested Tuesday on charges relating to theft of tax money. 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. Carrero operated Automiami Paint & Body Shop, Inc., 7304 S.W. 42nd Street, Miami.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Carrero routinely collected sales tax from customers at his business. 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 Carrero failed to send in $27,885.97 in sales tax that he collected from customers between October 2000 through September 2001. Investigators alleged that Carrero used the money to pay personal and business expenses.

"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Tax thieves steal money that the public pays to support vital services, such as law enforcement and education. Businesses that fail to comply with tax law also are stealing an unearned, undeserved competitive advantage over honest businesspeople. The Department 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 Miami at 305-499-2240.