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May 27, 2009

Bar Owner Arrested in over $200,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Pinellas County bar business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $200,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

John C. Bodziak, 35, of St. Petersburg, was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on May 27, 2009 on felony charges relating to failure to pay sales tax. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Bodziak operates Jannus Landing, 220 1st Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Bodziak routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between June 2004 and July 2007, Bodziak failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Bodziak had illegally kept $208,418.02 in 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
Clearwater at 727-507-6305.