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July 7, 2004

Jacksonville Restaurant Owner Arrested in $100,000 Tax Theft

The one-time owner of seven Subway sandwich-shop businesses in Jacksonville faces charges of tax theft after stealing more than $100,000 in sales tax that he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, Attorney General Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) announced.

The arrests resulted from an investigation involving Attorney General Crist's Office of the Statewide Prosecutor and DOR. Gregory Julian Quina IV, 46, of Jacksonville, surrendered Saturday to the Duval County Sheriff's Department on a felony charge relating to tax theft. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, plus repayment of stolen tax, penalty, and interest. At its largest, Quina's business involved seven Subway sandwich shops at 9551 Bay Meadows Road, 3597 Emerson Street, 9774 San Jose Boulevard, 469 Atlantic Boulevard, 14185 Beach Boulevard, 13170 Atlantic Boulevard, and 6620 Southpoint Drive in Jacksonville. Some stores have closed since the investigation began but Quina's business continues to operate Subway sandwich shops.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Quina routinely arranged for employees to collect sales tax on purchases that customers made at his stores. However, investigators charged, Quina failed to pay all the tax that he collected and failed to correctly file tax returns during various periods from 1998 through July of 2001. In all, investigators charged, Quina stole $100,357.95, diverting the funds to business and personal use, investigators charged.

"This kind of theft is unfair to competitors who comply with their obligations, unfair to the customers who pay the tax, and unfair to the state and its citizens who rely upon its revenue for essential state services," said Attorney General Crist. "The amount of revenue lost to the state and its citizens as a result of such conduct is substantial, and we will continue to bring these criminals to justice."

"Businesses that steal sales tax money are also stealing an unearned, undeserved competitive advantage over honest businesspeople who pay their taxes," said said Dr. Jim Zingale, DOR executive director. "Tax thieves cheat everyone."

Zingale urged other business owners or residents who know of attempted tax fraud to contact the Florida Department of Revenue. Jacksonville residents should call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Tallahassee at 850-922-2666.