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September 23, 2009

Hillsborough County Restaurant Owner Arrested

The owner of a Hillsborough County restaurant has been arrested on charges that he failed to file six consecutive returns and refused to pay taxes due, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Rodney R. Lopez, 45, of Tampa, was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department on September 22, 2009 on felony and misdemeanor charges. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fine, as well as possible tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Lopez owns Lopez Enterprises of Tampa that does business as Uncle Rodney's Rib House, 5712 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Lopez routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods beginning in 2006 through periods in 2009, he failed to file his tax returns as required by law.

"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 consistently fail to submit tax returns gain an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses that follow the law. 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 Tampa at 813-744-6506.