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September 30, 2010

Interior Designer Arrested

Paula H. Sage, former owner of Paula Holden Interior Design, Inc., has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $35,000 in state funds that she had collected from taxpayers, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Ms. Sage, 60, who lives in Vero Beach, was arrested by the Indian County Sheriff’s office on September 23, 2010 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Ms. Sage’s business had specialized in interior design and the sale of residential furnishings. Her business was located at 2900 Ocean Drive in Vero Beach prior to its closing.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Ms. Sage collected tax from customers at her businesses. However, during various periods in 2008 she failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes that she had collected. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection. Ms. Sage was released on bond pending her trial which is scheduled for October 29, 2010.

"Most Florida businesses do an excellent job of meeting the state's requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax, which pays for the 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 West Palm Beach at 561-640-2874.