News and Press Releases

restaurant owner pleads guilty to tax fraud conspiracy

May 18, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of several Mexican restaurants pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to file false tax returns.

Ismael Onate, 47, of Clarksville, Tenn., a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to the charge contained in a Sept. 7, 2010, federal indictment.

Onate was president of four Missouri corporations that operated El Vaquero Mexican Restaurant businesses in Warrensburg, Mexico, Hannibal, Kirksville, Moberly and Wentzville. By pleading guilty today, Onate admitted that from June 2002 to August 2008 he participated in a conspiracy to under-report income received at the restaurants in order to avoid paying federal taxes.

Conspirators removed cash from the cash register or directed others to remove cash from the cash register, and the restaurants failed to report the receipt of that cash for tax purposes. They also created fraudulent sales ledgers and destroyed guest tickets.

Co-defendant Javier Posada, 43, of Warrensburg, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, was the manager of the Warrensburg restaurant. Posada pleaded guilty on April 28, 2011, to his role in the conspiracy.

Onate and Posada are jointly and severally liable to pay $382,296 in restitution to the IRS. Under federal statutes, Onate and Posada are each subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

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

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