Owner of Chicago area restaurant franchises sentenced to more than a year in prison for underreporting $2.5 million in taxes

 

Date: June 24, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

CHICAGO — The owner of five Chicago-area Pepe's Mexican Restaurant franchises has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for filing false corporate tax returns that underreported $2.5 million in gross receipts and sales.

Juan C. Hurtado, of Joliet, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of making a false statement in a tax return. U.S. District Judge John F. Kness on Wednesday sentenced Hurtado to 15 months in federal prison and fined him $45,000.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.

"Defendant engaged in this conduct solely out of greed," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick D. Young argued in the government's sentencing memorandum. "He wanted more money for himself at the expense of other taxpayers who pay their fair share of taxes."

Hurtado owned Pepe's franchises in Chicago, Tinley Park, Hickory Hills, Matteson, and Chicago Heights. Hurtado admitted in a plea agreement that from 2016 to 2018 he caused the filing of eleven materially false corporate tax returns with the IRS, as well as materially false sales and income tax returns with the State of Illinois, that underreported the gross receipts and sales of his restaurants by a combined total of approximately $2.5 million. Hurtado further admitted that he created false sales reports and gave them to his accountants, knowing the reports would be used as a basis for underreporting the receipts and sales.