The former owner and operator of four popular Mexican restaurants in the Buffalo area who pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud was spared prison time in the local conviction against him. However he has already been sentenced to 12 months in federal prison on other charges stemming from the 2016 raid on his restaurants.
Sergio Mucino, 47, was sentenced Wednesday by Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan to a conditional discharge.
Mucino ran Don Tequila on Allen Street and Agave on Elmwood Avenue in the City of Buffalo; El Agave on Union Road in Cheektowaga; and La Divina on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. In 2016, immigration authorities raided all four restaurants.
He entered his guilty plea in county court in December.
In October, Mucino pleaded guilty in federal court to tax evasion and conspiracy to unlawfully employ more than 10 undocumented workers. He was sentenced on Feb. 14 to 12 months in federal prison on those charges.
Prosecutors in the federal case 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,
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 federal 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.