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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Restaurant Owner Sentenced To A Year In Prison For Tax Evasion And Employing Illegal Aliens

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Sergio Ramses Mucino, 48, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy to unlawfully employ more than ten aliens during any 12-month period, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiGiacomo, who handled the case, stated that the defendant owned and operated multiple restaurants in the Western New York area, including: Don Tequila, located at 73 Allen Street, Buffalo; El Agave located at 3870 Union Road, Cheektowaga, NY; Agave, located at 765 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo; and La Divina, located at 2896 Delaware Avenue, Kenmore, NY.

For the tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, Mucino owed substantial federal income tax as a result of income generated at the his restaurants through his employment of illegal aliens. However, the defendant concealed cash payments, failed to collect payroll taxes, paid employees with cash, and placed assets in the names of others, to evade payment of income taxes totaling $1,006,161.

Between March of 2014 and October 16, 2016, Mucino, along with co-defendants Jose Sanchez-Ocampo and Marguin Sanchez, conspired to hire at least 10 illegal aliens to work in the defendant’s restaurants. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Mucino provided money to Sanchez to purchase homes where the alien employees would live, including 149 North End in Kenmore, and 4024 Union Road in Cheektowaga. The defendant also paid rent for nine apartments where the alien employees lived. The two houses and nine apartments were within close proximity to the defendant’s restaurants.

Mucino is forfeiting nearly $40,000 in cash that was seized from his restaurants, a 2009 Porsche Boxster that the defendant purchased with his illegal profits, and another $1,000,000 representing additional profits made from operating the restaurants against the laws of the United States. Previously, Mucino forfeited two houses, which housed some of the illegal workers, as well as another $35,000 in cash by managers of Mucino’s restaurants.

Jose Sanchez-Ocampo and Marguin Sanchez were previously convicted.

“Those employers who evade immigration laws and put their own financial interests above the responsibilities incurred by all citizens of our country do great harm to the fabric of our Nation,” noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “While immigration and economic opportunity are part of the warp of our Nation’s fabric, their value exists only when interwoven into the weft of unyielding principles such as fairness and respect for the law. Through this prosecution we seek to reinforce our adherence to those important and enduring principles, as without them, the fabric of our Nation will be frayed into a tattered collection of individual threads of self-interest.”

“Today’s outcome marks the successful culmination of a complex worksite investigation and demonstrates our intent to hold businesses accountable who ignore their employment and tax obligations,” said Kevin Kelly, HSI Buffalo Special Agent-in-Charge. “Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers are not only contributing to the magnet that fuels illegal immigration, but these illegal practices also undercut legitimate businesses who play by the rules.”

Today’s sentencing is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in- Charge Kevin Kelly, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, under the direction of Executive Deputy Commissioner Nonie Manion.

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Topic(s): 
Immigration
Tax
Updated February 14, 2019