The owner of four popular Mexican restaurants raided two years by immigration authorities pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to tax evasion and conspiracy to unlawfully employ more than 10 undocumented workers.
As part of the plea, Sergio Ramses Mucino, 44, of Buffalo also agreed to forfeit nearly $40,000 in cash seized from his restaurants, a 2009 Porsche Boxster and another $1 million in additional profits made from operating his restaurants. Previously, managers had forfeited $35,000 in cash as well as two houses, where some of the workers lived, said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. Friday.
Mucino owned and operated two restaurants in Buffalo – Don Tequila on Allen Street and Agave on Elmwood Avenue – as well as El Agave on Union Road in Cheektowaga and La Divina on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.
Prosecutors said Mucino owed "substantial federal income tax" from the income he brought in through his employment of undocumented workers. He concealed cash payments, didn't collect payroll taxes, paid workers in cash and placed assets in other people's names to avoid payment of more than $1 million in income taxes, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiGiacomo, who handled the case.
Mucino conspired to hire at least 10 undocumented workers with two co-defendants, Jose Sanchez-Ocampo and Marguin Sanchez, who have been previously convicted, according to prosecutors. Mucino gave money to Sanchez to buy two houses – one in Kenmore and the other in Cheektowaga – where the workers would live. Mucino also paid rent for nine apartments for the workers to live in.