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August 5, 2010

Local Businesswoman Arrested for Theft of State Funds

Mary Colson Bowen, 57 owner of Mary’s Little “T” restaurant in Chiefland, has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $47,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Ms. Bowen was arrested by the Levy County Sheriff’s Department on August 5, 2010 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, she 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.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Bowen collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods beginning in 2005 lasting through 2009, she failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that she 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 Alachua at 386-418-4415.