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March 31, 2005

Orlando Audio-visual Service Owner Arrested in $65,000 Tax Theft Case

TALLAHASSEE -- The owner of an Orlando audio-visual service company has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $65,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Brian Jankuhn, 44, of Clermont, was arrested Thursday and booked at the Orange County Jail on felony charges relating to tax theft. 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. Jankuhn also faces felony charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law. Jankuhn operates Audio Visual Communications, which has an office at 13023 West Colonial Drive in Winter Garden and which formerly operated an office at 204 N. Tampa Ave. in Orlando.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Jankuhn routinely collected tax from customers at his business. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, during various periods between November 2002 and October 2004, Jankuhn failed to file tax returns as required by law. He also failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Abney had illegally kept $65,078.33 in tax money. DOR staff repeatedly visited and called Jankuhn in an attempt to help him come into compliance with state tax law, but he failed to meet his legal obligations.

"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 Maitland at 407-475-1256.