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August 1, 2008

Automobile Repair Shop Owner Arrested in over $10,000 Tax Theft Case

The owner of a Broward County automobile and truck repair business has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $10,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Edward B. Walker, 53, of Lauderdale Lakes, was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff's Department on July 31, 2008 on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Walker operates Eddie's Auto & Truck Repair, Inc., 1707 NW 38th Avenue, Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Walker routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between April 2003 and July 2006, Walker failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Walker had illegally kept $10,759.36 in tax 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 Coral Springs at 954-346-2907.