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Jannus Landing operator arrested on charges he didn't pay $200,000 in sales tax from famous Tampa Bay concert venue

ST. PETERSBURG — Jannus Landing bills itself as Florida's biggest, oldest outdoor concert venue. For years downtown crowds have swayed — or moshed — beneath the stars to everyone from the Go-Go's to Green Day to the Wu-Tang Clan to the Flaming Lips.

But Florida says it wasn't getting its share of sales tax revenue from all the famous and not-so-famous acts that have made Jannus Landing one of Tampa Bay's most popular concert sites.

That's why state agents on Wednesday arrested the venue's operator, John C. "Jack" Bodziak, on allegations he failed to pay $208,418 in sales tax.

Bodziak was charged with grand theft, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If convicted, he could get more than just prison: Bodziak might still have to pay the state its $200,000, plus interest and penalties, plus the cost of the investigation, and a $10,000 fine on top of all that.

The 36-year-old is one of downtown's busiest proprietors. He has a hand in businesses like Detroit Liquors and Fine Wines, the Pelican Pub, the Tamiami Bar and the State Theatre.

But Jannus Landing is a downtown landmark, one now facing an uncertain future. The state said the venue can continue to operate despite its operator's troubles.

But will it? An employee who did not identify herself said Jannus Landing will stay open. The next concert is Monday with Matisyahu and Les Claypool.

"I'd be disappointed if it didn't stay open," said David DeCorte, a 20-year-old St. Petersburg College student who saw Protest the Hero at Jannus Landing last year.

According to the Department of Revenue, Bodziak didn't turn over sales tax he collected over various time periods from June 2004 to July 2007.

The sales tax was owed from revenue Jannus Landing generated at 220 First Avenue N from patrons buying drinks and concert tickets, the state said.

But under Florida law, sales tax revenue is the property of the state as soon as the money changes hands.

"Individuals who collect tax but don't send it in are stealing from taxpayer dollars and gaining an unfair financial advantage over honest businesses," said Department of Revenue executive director Lisa Echeverri in a prepared statement.

But this isn't Jannus Landing's first legal problem with the Florida Department of Revenue. The state has placed several liens against the venue for delinquent taxes since 2000, according to court records.

Jannus Landing has satisfied all but three liens totaling $112,727. It is unknown if those liens are a part of the criminal case against Bodziak. And records show Bank of America has started foreclosure proceedings against a downtown apartment that Bodziak owns at the Hotel Detroit condominiums.

Bodziak of 215 Nina St. NE in Snell Isle was booked into the Pinellas County jail but released a few hours later on $250,000 bail. He did not return a call for comment late Wednesday.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Jannus Landing operator arrested on charges he didn't pay $200,000 in sales tax from famous Tampa Bay concert venue 05/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 3:55pm]
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