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April 21, 2009

Restaurant Owner Arrested for Theft of State Funds

The owner of two Leon county restaurants has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $41,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Rosalba Colin Cabrera, also known as, Rosalba Mendoza, 37 of Tallahassee, was arrested by the Leon County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, April 20 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ms. Cabrera owns and operated Cabrera’s, Inc. doing business as Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant (now closed), 2690 North Monroe Street, and owns and operates Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant, 2736 Capital Circle, both in Tallahassee.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Cabrera routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods in 2008, she failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected at the two locations. Investigators found that she had illegally kept 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
Tallahassee at 850-922-2671.