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December 15, 2010

Labelle Auto Repair Shop Corporate Officers Arrested for Theft of State Funds

The corporate officers of a Labelle auto repair shop have been arrested on charges that they stole more than $22,000 in sales tax they collected from customers, but failed to send in to the state, the Florida Department of Revenue announced.

Edward D. Scheffler Jr., 49, and Lois M. Scheffler, 74, of Labelle were arrested by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department on December 7, 2010 on felony charges relating to theft of state funds. If convicted, they each face 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. Edward D. Scheffler Jr. and Lois M. Scheffler owned and operated Pro Auto Repair of Labelle, Inc., 49 North Industrial Loop in Labelle.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Edward D. Scheffler Jr. and Lois M. Scheffler collected tax from customers at the business. However, during various periods beginning in 2007 and lasting through periods in 2009, they failed to send into the state all of the sales taxes collected. Investigators found that they had illegally kept the tax. 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 Ft. Myers at 239-338-2425.

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.