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April 20, 2011

Charlotte County Couple Arrested for Theft of State Funds

Bryon W. Dawkins, 41, and his wife Michelle M. Dawkins, 31, owners of B’s Auto Body have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $4,000 in sales tax they collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced today.

The couple, who live in Port Charlotte, was arrested by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department on April 19 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds and failing to file six consecutive returns. If convicted, they face 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. The business is located at 4145 Whidden Boulevard, Port Charlotte, Florida 33980.

According to Revenue Department investigators, the couple collected tax from customers at their business. However, during various periods beginning in 2007 and lasting through periods in 2011, they failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that they had collected. 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 Vickers, 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 Ft. Myers at 239-338-2425.

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue Investigations office in Port Richey at 727-841-4272.

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.