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May 14, 2008

Grocery Store Owner Arrested in over $18,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Bay County grocery store has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $18,000 in sales tax she collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced today.

Gladys Watson McCabe, 68, of Panama City, was arrested by the Bay County Sheriff’s Department on May 14, 2008, on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, she 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. McCabe also faces charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law. McCabe is the owner of McCabe’s Grocery, 7437 East Highway 22, Panama City, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, McCabe routinely collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods between January 2005 and August 2007, McCabe failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Investigators found that McCabe had illegally kept $18,861.19 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. McCabe also failed to file six consecutive sales tax returns which is also a third degree felony.

"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 Panama City at 850-747-5614.