News and Press Releases

Restaurant owner, managers indicted for false tax returns

September 7, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of several Mexican restaurants, along with the managers of two of those restaurants, were indicted by a federal grand jury today for participating in a conspiracy to file false tax returns for those businesses.

Ismael Onate, 46, of Clarksville, Tenn., and Miguel A. Vega, 34, of Mexico, Mo., both of whom are citizens of Mexico and lawful permanent residents, and Javier Posada, 42, of Warrensburg, Mo., a naturalized U.S. citizen, were charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City.

Onate was president of four Missouri corporations that operated El Vaquero Mexican Restaurant businesses in Warrensburg, Mexico, Hannibal, Kirksville, Moberly and Wentzville. Posada was the manager of the Warrensburg restaurant and Vega was the manager of the Mexico restaurant.

Today’s indictment alleges that, from June 2002 to Aug. 4, 2008, Onate, Posada and Vega participated in a conspiracy to under-report income received at the restaurants to avoid paying federal taxes. The total cash that allegedly went unreported was more than $1.8 million, which amounted to a total tax loss of $382,296.

According to the indictment, Onate told restaurant managers to remove cash from the cash registers of each establishment, to create fraudulent sales ledgers based on the reduced receipts, and to provide those false ledgers to the restaurants’ CPA. The fraudulent sales ledgers were used to compute the restaurants’ gross receipts and to prepare tax forms for each corporation.

Posada and Vega delivered the cash that had been removed from the registers to Onate on a monthly or semi-monthly basis, the indictment says, for which they received a 10 percent share of the cash.

The indictment also alleges that Onate, Posada and Vega undertook other activities to avoid paying taxes. For example, the allegedly created fake loans from the various restaurants to the managers and owners. These loans were, in fact, disbursements to the owners and managers, the indictment says, but were not reported on their personal tax returns as income. Employees were allegedly paid in cash in an effort to evade payroll taxes. Rebate checks from food suppliers allegedly were deposited into a bank account that was not disclosed to the CPA.

In addition to the conspiracy, Onate and Posada are each charged with two counts of filing false tax returns.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Pansing Brown. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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