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July 22, 2011

Ocala Auto Dealer Arrested for Theft of State Funds

The owner of an Ocala auto dealership has been arrested on charges that he stole more than 81,000.00 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Howard H. Kleinberg, 57, of Ocala, was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff's Department on July 21, 2011 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Kleinberg owns and operates Crown Auto and Fleet Services, Inc, 2258 North West Pine Avenue, Ocala.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Kleinberg collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods beginning in 2006 and lasting through periods in 2010, he failed to send into the state 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.

"It is an honor to serve the vast majority of Florida businesses who comply with State tax requirements," said Lisa Vickers, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "For those that don’t, it is our job to enforce the law and ensure honest businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by those who ignore the law or worse—intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Alachua at 386-418-4415.

Note: Due to the confidential nature of taxpayer records, generally the information found in this release is the only information available from the Department of Revenue concerning this matter. Other information may be available through the arresting agency and the local Clerk of Court.