A Hudsonville man that owns 90 Mexican restaurants across five states, including 24 in Michigan, will spend the next year in federal prison for tax evasion.
Marco Cuellar, 37, was sentenced in U.S. District Court this week to serve 12 months in prison for filing false tax returns, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced Tuesday.
Before his sentencing, Cuellar was also required to pay approximately $370,000.00 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in back taxes and penalties.
According to his plea-agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cuellar filed false tax returns for 2008 through 2012 with the Internal Revenue Service. During those years, Cuellar skimmed cash from his restaurants located in Michigan and then failed to report that income in his tax returns for those years; as a result, Cuellar avoided paying taxes on $607,914.00 of unreported income.
“Successful business owners have the same legal duty to pay their taxes as any other taxpayer, and any business owner who uses his or her business to cheat the tax-paying public has to understand that he or she runs the real risk of winding up as a defendant in Federal court,” stated U.S. Attorney Miles. “Mr. Cuellar ran that risk, and now he’s on his way to prison.”
“Cheating on your taxes is the same as stealing,” said Special Agent in Charge, Manny Muriel, of IRS Criminal Investigation. “Individuals who corruptly violate the law to further their business interests and intentionally evade paying their fair share of taxes undermine public confidence in our tax system and unfairly disadvantage businesses that follow the rules. As Marco Cuellar has discovered, operating outside the law and failing to pay taxes has severe consequences.”
As a citizen of Mexico who is present in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, Cuellar also faces removal proceedings back to Mexico once he is released from the Bureau of Prisons.
Cuellar owned/co-owned over 90 restaurants in MI, MS, IL, OH and LA. There were 24 in MI incorporated as “S” corporations under names: “La Pinata, Inc.” (one location); “El Burrito Loco, Inc.” (five locations); “Loz Aztecas, Inc.” (three locations); “Cinco de Mayo, Inc.” (two locations); “El Ranchero, Inc.” (one location); “El Rancho, Inc.” (four locations); “Los Cabos, Inc.” (one location); “San Marcos, Inc.” (three locations); “La Herradura, Inc.” (two locations); “Loco Burrito, Inc.” (one location); and “Don Luis, Inc.” (one location).
Restaurant locations included Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Battle Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Allendale, Rockford, Petoskey, Ludington, Holland, Gaylord, Novi, Grand Haven, and Traverse City.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank, and was investigated by Special Agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.