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November 2, 2011

Vero Beach Auto Repair Shop Owner Arrested

Lonnie Strickland, 53, owner of Strickland’s Automotive and Air Conditioning Specialists, has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $45,000 in sales tax he collect from customers, the Florida Department of Revenue announced today.

Mr. Strickland, Vero Beach, was arrested by the Indian River Sheriff’s Department on October 28, 2011 on a felony charge relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as, repayment of sales tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Strickland collected tax from customers at his repair shop. However, during various periods beginning in 2009 and lasting through periods in 2011, he failed to send in to the state all the taxes he collected from his customers. The repair shop is located at 2546 U.S. Highway 1 in Vero Beach.

"It is an honor to serve the vast majority of Florida businesses who comply with State tax requirements," said Lisa Vickers, Executive Director, Florida Department of Revenue. "For those that don’t, it is our job to enforce the law and ensure honest businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by those who ignore the law, or worse, intentionally collect and steal taxpayer dollars."

If you have information about tax crimes, please call the Florida Department of Revenue investigations office in Fort Pierce at 772-429-2196.

Note: Due to the confidential nature of taxpayer records, generally the information found in this release is the only information available from the Department of Revenue concerning this matter. Other information may be available through the arresting agency and the local Clerk of Court.