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November 6, 2008

Owner of Two Local Restaurants Arrested in over $164,000 Tax Theft Case

The Florida Department of Revenue announced that the owner of Parramores Restaurant and Parramores Too Restaurant has been arrested on charges that he stole more than $164,000 in sales tax he collected from customers at both locations, but failed to send in to the state.

Ralph Eugene Cox, age 64 of Bascom, was arrested by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department at approximately 7:30 AM on November 6, 2008, on a first degree felony charge relating to failure to submit all the taxes he collected. If convicted, Mr. Cox faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs. Mr. Cox is the owner of Parramores Too Restaurant, located at 16438 South West Chipola Road, in Blountstown (Calhoun County) and Parramores Restaurant, located at 8141 Highway 90, in Sneads (Jackson County).

According to Revenue Department investigators, Mr. Cox routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between January 2004 and February 2008, he failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that he had illegally kept more than $164,000 in tax 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 Panama City at 850-747-5614.