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June 6, 2005

Former Chiefland Boat Dealer Arrested in $188,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a now-closed Chiefland boat repair and sales business – already the target of a fraud investigation – has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $188,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Robert Jason Alexander, 36, of Boca Raton, was arrested by Friday, May 27, by the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Department on charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay 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. Alexander also faces charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law. Alexander operated Aqua Marine Sales and Service, 6250 NW 126th Place, Chiefland. The business closed in mid-2004.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Alexander routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods from 2001 to 2004, Alexander failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Alexander had kept $188,343.33 in tax money. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. DOR staff repeatedly encouraged Alexander to meet his obligations under law, but he failed to honor written promises to obey tax law. Alexander also faces unrelated grand-theft charges stemming from alleged sales of stolen property in his business.

"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 Alachua at 386-418-4415.