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August 19, 2009

Owners of Escambia County Restaurant Arrested in Theft Case

The owners of an Escambia County restaurant have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $88,000 in sales tax they collected from customers and failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Daniel J. Levitan, 45, and his wife Pamela H. Levitan, 46, both of Pensacola, were arrested by the Escambia County Sheriff's Department. Pamela H. Levitan, arrested on August 17, and David J. Levitan, arrested on August 18, face felony charges relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, and investigative costs. The Levitans owned and operated Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub & Eatery, 2100 West Nine Mile Road, Pensacola.

According to Revenue Department investigators, the Levitans routinely collected tax from customers at their business. However, during various periods in 2008, the Levitans failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes they had collected. Investigators found that the Levitans had illegally kept over $88,000 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 Pensacola at 850-595-5188.