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September 28, 2010

Coral Gables Restaurant Owner Arrested

The owner of a Coral Gables restaurant has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $9,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Martha L. Gonzalez, 44 of Miami, was arrested by the Miami Police Department on September 22, 2010 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds and refusing to file and pay taxes due. Bond was set at $85,000. If convicted, she 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. Ms. Gonzales owns and operates The Rubber Duck of Coral Gables, LLC, 141 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Gonzales collected tax from customers at her business. However, during various periods beginning in 2008 and lasting through periods in 2010, she failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected and she also failed to file the and pay required tax returns. Investigators found that she had illegally kept taxpayers 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 Miami at 305-513-3295.