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June 24, 2009

Local Man Arrested for Aggravated White Collar Crimes in
Connection with Theft of State Funds

The owner of several convenience stores in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and/or Bay Counties has been arrested on aggravated white collar crime charges relating to theft of state funds, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

James L. Richardson, Jr. 58, of Destin, surrendered to authorities at the Escambia County Sheriffs Office on June 23, 2009 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of tax, interest, and investigative costs. Mr. Richardson owned and operated several convenience stores in the area under several names.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Richardson routinely collected tax from customers at his businesses. However, during various periods in 2004 and 2005, he failed to remit all of the sales taxes that he had collected. 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
Pensacola at 850-595-5179.