SARASOTA, Fla. -- An owner of four area pizza restaurants turned himself in to authorities Wednesday after an investigation revealed he had embezzled nearly $10,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but didn't turn over to the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR).
According to the Sun-Herald, Douglas St. Amant, 42, owner of Five Point Enterprises, which is a franchisee of Little Caesars pizza shops, turned himself in to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office to face charges relating to tax theft and failure to comply with tax law. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, as well as possible repayment of stolen tax, interest, penalty and investigative costs, according to Jim Zingale, executive director of the DOR.
St. Amant's stores are located in the towns of Venice, Sarasota and Bradenton, all of which are on Florida's Gulf Coast.
According to DOR investigators, St. Amant collected sales tax from his customers, which under Florida law, becomes the property of the state at the moment of collection. However, business's records showed St. Amant didn't send in $9,791.04 in tax collected between January 1999 and February 2000.
"The department tried to make several stipulation agreements with Mr. St. Amant, however, he did not voluntarily make payments or follow through with his promises," said Dave Burns, spokesman for the DOR. "We were finally left with no choice."
St. Amant was taken to the Sarasota County Jail on July 31, and released later that day on his own recognizance.
Burns said the pizza parlors will not be shut down by the DOR, however, any further actions are up to Sarasota Circuit Court.