Prosecutor files charges against restaurant owners underreporting sales

The owners of five Mexican restaurants across Indiana who are accused of underreporting nearly $2 million in sales are now facing criminal charges in Marion Superior Court.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Thursday that he filed criminal theft charges against Manuel Rodriquez Alonso and Rosalio Sanchez Wednesday.  A joint investigation with the Indiana Department of Revenue revealed that the two men collectively underreported $1.8 million in sales – and, thus, did not pay $143,000 in sales and food and beverage taxes – at six restaurants in Delaware, Grant and Marion counties between 2013 and 2015. Both Alonso and Sanchez have agreed to plead guilty in the case.

After the owners of the popular Mexican restaurant chain El Rodeo pleaded guilty in 2015 to criminal theft and forfeited $4.53 million for failing to report accurate sales, Adam Krupp, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, said the state received an anonymous tip that Alonso and Sanchez were engaged in similar conduct at five Mexican restaurants – Casa Del Sol Mexican Grill in Muncie, La Cabana Mexican Grill in Indianapolis, Ciudad Colonial Fresh Mexican Food in Muncie, Casa Grande Mexican Grill & Bar in Gas City and El Metate Mexican Grill & Bar in Fairmount – and at a sixth restaurant, York Pizza.

“At the time that we filed the charges in the El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant case, we said that we are putting restaurants and other businesses on notice that if you are not properly reporting your sales and not properly paying over the taxes that are due to the state of Indiana, you are cheating the people of the state of Indiana and you are committing a crime and that we will look at you, we will investigate you and we will prosecute you,” Curry said Thursday morning. “These two defendants obviously failed to heed that warning.”

As part of a signed plea agreement, Sanchez has agreed to plead guilty to six counts of theft as Level 6 and Class D felonies, while Alonso has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of Level 6 and Class D felony theft.  Sanchez is charged in connection with all six restaurants, while Alonso’s charges stem only from Casa Del Sol, York Pizza and Cuidad Colonial Fresh, according to the probable cause affidavit. All six restaurants are still operational, the prosecutor’s office said Thursday.

Approximately $250,000 had been seized from cash and bank accounts in connection with the cases, Curry said. Additionally, the defendants have agreed to pay $143,000 to the state Department of Revenue for the unpaid taxes.

“Businesses that fail to remit the full amount of tax due are neglecting their responsibility to their community, and they gain an unfair advantage over businesses that play by the rules,” Krupp said.

A separate civil forfeiture action in which forfeiture of the remaining $104,480 to local law enforcement agencies is sought is still pending.

The cases have been assigned to Marion County Criminal Court 15, but an initial hearing date has not been set.

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