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March 11, 2010

Owner of Several Restaurants Arrested in Theft of State Funds

The owner of several Orange County restaurants has been arrested on charges of theft of state funds on sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, and failure to file six consecutive returns, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Carlos E. Sciortino, 38, of Windermere, was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on March 10, 2010 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds and failure to file tax returns. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines for each felony charge, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Sciortino operated BPW Fairbanks, LLC at 1881 W. Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park; BPW Pershing, LLC at 5681 Pershing Avenue, Orlando; J Rock Pizza, LLC at 7213 Curry Ford Road, Orlando; BPW Colonial, LLC at 2612 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; BPW I-Drive, LLC at 7001 International Drive, Orlando; Maxjus, LLC at 2642 Maguire Road, Ocoee; and BPW UCF, LLC at the University of Central Florida. The companies were d/b/a Brooklyn Pizza and Marco Anthony Italian Restaurant.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Sciortino routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between December 2005 and November 2009, Sciortino failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected and for some of these periods, he failed to file returns at all. The Department of Revenue estimates the sales tax collected and not remitted is over $240,000. 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 Maitland at 407-475-1254.