San Antonio Couple Sentenced in Restaurant Investment Fraud Scheme
SAN ANTONIO – A Mexican national man and his wife, both residing in San Antonio, were sentenced in federal court today for a scheme to defraud business investors of over $1 million and failing to properly declare their income to the Internal Revenue Service.
Juan Enrique Kramer, 46, was sentenced to three years in prison, forfeiture of $59,589 in proceeds, restitution of $1,171,497 payable to the victims of his wire fraud, and restitution of $727,936 to the IRS. Adriana Pastor, 47, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and is also liable for the $727,936 to the IRS. Both Kramer and Pastor were also sentenced to three years of post-release supervision.
According to court documents, Kramer and other co-conspirators promoted a “turn-key” business venture to Mexican nationals, consisting of a chain of Mexican food restaurants throughout the United States and Mexico known as “Las Quesadillas.” Kramer charged buyers a set fee ranging from $105,000 to $250,000 and promised to perform all tasks necessary for establishing a fully functional restaurant, including finding and renting a suitable location; obtaining all permits; providing assistance in obtaining visas for buyers; completing construction; training employees; and handling all legal fees and incorporation issues.
The defendants took funds from buyers but failed to provide the promised services. Instead, they used the funds for personal gain or to provide partial payments to previous customers who were demanding their money back. In addition to partial refunds, Kramer would also offer stakes in other businesses as an alternative to repayment. If buyers refused, Kramer would threaten to sue them for breach of contract. The defendants perpetrated their scheme on at least eight different victims resulting in a total loss of more than $1 million.
“Investment fraud schemes such as what Kramer and Pastor engaged in are specifically designed to take advantage of vulnerable, trusting individuals,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “Today’s sentences underscore that this is unacceptable criminal conduct and violators will be held accountable.”
Kramer and Pastor did not declare any of the investor income to the IRS. In 2016, Pastor signed a tax return which falsely stated a net income loss. In 2017 and 2018, the couple did not file any tax returns whatsoever, despite still running restaurants and taking in investor money.
On February 1, 2022, Kramer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of failure to file an individual tax return. On February 22, 2022, Pastor pleaded guilty to one count of aiding or assisting in filing a false tax return. Two co-defendants who remain are pending sentencing.
“With Kramer and Pastor came a scheme that caused harm and created victims to citizens in two nations. Our efforts to coordinate with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad help ensure justice is served and criminals pay the price regardless of international borders,” said Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington, of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Houston Field Office. “These two are con artists who swindled people out of money.”
The IRS-CI and the FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Texas State Securities Board.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Chung, Matthew W. Kinskey and Antonio Franco Jr. prosecuted the case.