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July 13, 2010

Used Car Dealer Arrested in $200,000 Dollar Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Lee County used car dealership 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.

Carlos L. Torres, also known as, Carlos L. Seinz, 32, of Port Charlotte, was arrested by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department on June 21, 2010 on a felony charge 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 stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Torres owned and operated 3BBB Auto Sales, Inc., 4852 Palm Beach Boulevard, Ft. Myers.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Torres collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods beginning in 2006 and lasting through periods in 2009, he failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that he had illegally kept taxpayer 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 Ft. Myers at 239-338-2425