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August 11, 2004

Tallahassee Auto Repair Shop Owner Arrested for Stealing Tax Money

TALLAHASSEE - The owner of a Tallahassee auto repair shop has been arrested on charges that he stole sales tax money that he collected from customers but did not send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Marlin Wade Jones, 41, of Crawfordville, was arrested by an agent of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tuesday 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. Jones operates Wade Jones Micro Tech at 3206 W. Tennessee Street in Tallahassee.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Jones routinely collected tax from customers at his business. By state law, tax collected from customers becomes the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, during various periods between January 2003 and December 2003, Jones failed to file tax returns or send in to the state more than a small amount of the sales taxes that he had collected, investigators charged. According to investigators, DOR staff tried to work with Jones to help him come into compliance with tax law, but he refused to fulfill promises to obey the law. DOR was left with no choice but to pursue criminal charges.

"To be fair, tax law must apply uniformly to all businesses," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "Tax cheats steal money that the public pays to support vital public services, such as law enforcement and education. They also steal a competitive advantage over honest businesspeople who pay their taxes. The Department of Revenue cannot and will not allow this to occur. "

If you have information about tax theft, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Tallahassee at 850-488-3818.