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September 10, 2009

Fort Myers Contractor Arrested for Theft of Taxes

The owner of a now closed Lee County company specializing in the sales and installation of hurricane shutters has been arrested on charges that he stole state sales tax that he collected from customers, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Gary Lee Johnson 57, of Fort Myers, was arrested by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department on September 8, 2009 on a felony charge related to theft of taxes. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Johnson owned and operated Hurricane Shutter Source, Inc., 57 Zip Drive, Unit 2, Fort Myers.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Johnson routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods in 2006, he failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that he had illegally kept more than $36,000. 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 Fort Myers at 239-338-2426.