Freeport Tax Man

The owner of a Freeport used automobile and repair business has been arrested on charges that he allegedly stole more than $121,000 in sales tax he collected from customers but failed to send in to the state.

The Florida Department of Revenue says James Harlan Pope, 40, was arrested by the Walton County Sheriff’s Department on felony charges relating to failure to file tax returns and pay tax.

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. Pope also faces felony charges related to failure to file tax returns as required by law.

Until recently, Pope operated Freeport Auto Center, doing business as same at 17240 Highway 331 South, Freeport. Florida.

According to Revenue Department investigators, Pope routinely collected tax from customers at his business. However, during various periods between January 2001 and December 2004, Pope failed to send in to the state all of the sales taxes that he had collected. Investigators found that Pope had illegally kept $121,023.27 in tax money.