State: Local restaurant owner stole $126,000 in sales taxes

LARGO — At the Venue restaurant, customers paid state sales tax on their receipts.

But according to the Florida Department of Revenue, not all of the money made it back to the state.

On Wednesday, authorities arrested the former owner of the Ulmerton Road restaurant, Carmine J. Chioccariello. They say he kept $126,000 in sales taxes last year.

Businesses register with the state to collect sales taxes, a department spokeswoman said. They're supposed to report and send the amount they bring in to the state.

Chioccariello, 40, of Clearwater faces a felony charge relating to theft of state funds.

Records show he posted a $15,000 bond Wednesday and was released from the Pinellas County jail.

He did not return a message left Thursday at Sports Injury and Physical Therapy in St. Petersburg. It's website lists Chioccariello as its founder and director of physical therapy.

Chioccariello does not have a criminal record in Florida. This summer, U.S. Bank began foreclosure proceedings on a townhouse and boat slip he owns on the Pinellas Bayway, according to Pinellas County records.

In May new owner John Bernier took over the restaurant, now called The V Tampa Bay.

Times staff researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this story. Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or swang@tampabay.com.

State: Local restaurant owner stole $126,000 in sales taxes 09/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 10:34pm]

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