The owners of a popular Mexican restaurant in Springfield were charged Thursday with theft and accused of defrauding the state of more than $100,000 in sales tax revenue.
Amanda and Nicolas Paz, owners of AZ-T-CA Mexican Grill, pleaded not guilty in Sangamon County Circuit Court to felony theft of public funds over $100,000 and tax evasion.
An investigation by the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigations Division alleged that the couple participated in a scheme to underreport monthly sales to accountants and the state while collecting and retaining receipts sales tax.
CID said the Paz reported false income to accountants over a period of more than four years, from January 2015 to October 2019. The state said restaurant owners underreported more than a million dollars from restaurant sales.
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Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who brought the charges, said the Paz took advantage of their clients through the alleged scheme and starved government programs of much-needed revenue.
“Commercial operators who commit sales tax fraud take advantage of customers who have paid to help them meet their tax obligations and also deprive important programs and services of needed revenue,” Raoul said. “I appreciate the continued partnership of the Illinois Department of Revenue as we seek to hold these individuals accountable.”
The next court date has been set for August 22. If found guilty, the couple could face up to 30 years in prison.
Contacted Thursday after the initial hearing, Nicolas Paz indicated that the restaurant would remain open pending the outcome of the case.
Contact Zach Roth: (217) 899-4338; [email protected]; @ZacharyRoth13
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: AZ-T-CA restaurant owners in Springfield charged with theft, tax evasion