August 14, 1998

The Two founders of Alberto's Mexican Fast Food Restaurants Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison for Tax Evasion


United States Attorney Charles G. La Bella stated that Juan Diego Rodriguez, and Alvaro Rodriguez, the founders of the Alberto's Mexican Restaurants, were sentenced today by United States Senior district Judge William B. Enright to 33 months in prison for their crimes of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. In sentencing the defendants, Judge Enright described the fraud as "massive," noting that the "defendants' conduct was reprehensible and they also corrupted the lives of many people who now have felony convictions." Both defendants were also fined $7,500 and ordered to pay back to the United States Treasury back taxes, interest and penalties. The defendants were also placed on three years of supervised release to follow their release from prison. Tax Division Trial Attorney Flynn stated at the sentencing that Juan Diego Rodriguez' back taxes are more than $280,000 and Alvaro Rodriguez' back taxes exceed $340,000.

The Rodriguez brothers previously admitted in open court during their guilty plea hearing that as part of their conspiracy they cheated on their own federal income tax returns and encouraged other Alberto's operators to cheat on their personal federal in- come tax returns. The tax loss to the United States government and taxpayers caused by the conspiracy was at least $1.4 million dollars. The conspiracy covered the period from 1988 through 1993, and revolved around these two defendants receiving substantial monthly cash payments from the various operators of the Alberto's Mexican Food Restaurants. The cash payments made to the defendants ranged from $1,000 to $10,000 a month. These two defendants did not report on their personal income tax returns the true amount of cash they received from the operators.

Tax Division Trial Attorney Thomas W. Flynn described at the sentencing hearing how eight other operators of Alberto's Mexican fast food restaurants have already been sentenced by Judge Enright for filing false federal income tax returns. Also, three return preparers have pled guilty to the felony charge of preparing false federal income tax returns for certain restaurant operators and for the Rodriguez brothers.

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