Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Tax Case
Someone caught claiming a bogus Homestead exemption is usually just hit with a big fine. But a Broward County realtor is facing a criminal charge. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Sixty-two-year-old Dawna Brammer-Paul, who goes by Gayle Brammer, is charged with a felony that could have put her behind bars for five years.
At the heart of the case: Brammer-Paul's home in Fort Lauderdale's Seven Isles neighborhood.
It is valued at just under $1 million by the Property Appraiser's Office.
The county says Brammer-Paul, who is a realtor, was renting it to tourists while also claiming she was living there.
Ron Cacciatore, Broward Property Appraiser's Office: "We discovered that this was a short-term rental here in Fort Lauderdale on the water, and by law, short-term rentals have to pay a bed tax and have to pay a state sales tax."
The county claims Brammer-Paul collected sales and bed taxes in 2008, 2009 and 2010 from renters, but didn't pay the county or the state as required by law.
Ron Cacciatore, Broward Property Appraiser's Office: "She was pocketing the money."
In Broward, the money collected from the bed tax is used to bring in tourists, and those tourist dollars benefit the entire community.
Nicki Grossman, Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau: "We need that tax money. We need that tax money to go to the marketplace and get people here."
The Brammer-Paul case involves a little over $7,000 in tax money that was not paid.
And while it may not be much individually, experts believe this case is just the tip of a very large iceberg.
Ron Cacciatore, Broward Property Appraiser's Office: "Thousands of them, thousands of properties just here in Broward County that are short-term rentals that are not collecting bed tax and sales tax."
Judge Michael Robinson: "Ma'am, raise your right hand."
Brammer-Paul, meanwhile, paid the back tax with penalties and interest and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.
Judge Michael Robinson: "You're pleading to theft of state funds."
As a result, she was sentenced to 60 days probation.
After being fingerprinted, she hid behind her purse on the way out of court.
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