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Press Release

Orlando Restaurateur Pleads Guilty For Failing To Pay $2 Million In Employment Taxes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, FL –United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Manuel Tato  has pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to truthfully account for and pay over employment taxes. Tato faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, Tato owned and operated multiple restaurants in the Orlando area from at least 2010 to 2017, including Spice Modern Steakhouse. Tato was the owner and operator of an entity called Core Food Group, an affiliated company for Tato’s restaurants that was responsible for processing payroll for the employees of Tato’s restaurants. Through Core Food Group, Tato employed approximately 645 restaurant workers between 2010 and 2017, and had a duty to collect and pay over employment taxes on behalf of those employees. Employment taxes include Federal Income Tax, Medicare and Social Security.

While Tato withheld employment taxes from his employees’ paychecks and informed his employees that he was doing so on their paystubs, he never actually paid those taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During the charged time frame, July 2016 to March 2017, Tato failed to pay the IRS $93,690.66. Throughout the entire time Core Food Group existed, Tato failed to pay over $2 million in taxes that he had withheld from his employees and owed in relation to their employment.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Rachel S. Lyons and Assistant United States Attorney Dana Hill.

Updated May 1, 2023

Financial Fraud