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December 14, 2011

Furniture Store Owner Arrested in Theft Case

Lorie L. Barnett, 49, former owner of Barnett’s Furniture of Crestview, Inc. doing business as Rooms Made Easy, located in Mary Esther has been arrested on charges that she stole more than $21,000 in sales tax she collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Mrs. Barnett, who lives in Gulf Breeze, was arrested by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department on December 8, 2011 on felony and misdemeanor charges relating to theft of state funds and failure to file returns and pay taxes due. 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, and investigative costs. The store was located at 300 Mary Esther Blvd. in Mary Esther.

According to Revenue Department investigators, she 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 or file tax returns as required by law. Under state law, sales tax is the property of the state at the moment of collection.

"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 Pensacola at 850-595-5188.

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.