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May 1, 2006

Leon County Vending Machine Owner Arrested in More Than $116,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Leon County vending machine business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $116,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Lloyd T. Martin, 68, of Tallahassee, turned himself in to the Leon County Sheriffs Department on April 26 on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. 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. Martin also faces felony charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law. Martin operates Martin Vending, Inc., doing business as same at 5187 Woodlane Circle, Tallahassee, Florida, and throughout Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Wakulla, and Washington counties. The business remains open.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Martin routinely collected tax from customers through his business. However, during various periods between March 2001 and July 2005, Martin failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Martin had illegally kept $116,460.91 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"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 Tallahassee at 805-922-2666.