Despite Legal Trouble, Acapulco Owner Says Restaurant Will Persevere
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A southeast Indiana restaurateur is working to rebuild his business and his reputation after a very public legal battle in criminal court.
Adolfo Lopez had a hand in a number of Mexican restaurant locations throughout southeast Indiana, including Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurant in Lawrenceburg. In September of 2012, Indiana Excise Police carried out a series of raids at five of those restaurants in Dearborn, Ohio, and Ripley counties.
More than 100 people, including Lopez and his wife, were arrested in those raids. The allegations were that Lopez and another restaurant owner, Benito Lopez, were not reporting much of their restaurants’ cash sales, dodging state sales taxes as a result.
Lopez was jailed in Dearborn County for several weeks following the raids. He has been out of jail since winning an appeal for a lower bond. A plea agreement reached last month – Lopez pleaded guilty to Corrupt Business Influence, Forgery, Perjury, Theft, and Money Laundering in Dearborn Circuit Court – allowed Lopez to avoid any additional jail time.
With credit for that time previously served in jail, he is currently serving five months on in-home incarceration followed by six years probation. He has also been ordered to repay $305,000 in restitution for the missed sales taxes.
“It was the best way out of a worse situation,” Lopez said through a spokesperson and translator, insisting he and those at his restaurant are good people.
Even through the legal woes, Lopez – a 15-year U.S. citizen he says – has stayed in Dearborn County and in the dining business. While all the other southeast Indiana locations he owned have seen their leases liquidated since the criminal case began, Lopez, 44, continues to own and operate the Lawrenceburg restaurant.
Local customers, the Greendale resident says, have remained loyal. Business is about at the level at the Lawrenceburg restaurant as it had been, with many tables occupied on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The reception I got from the general public has helped recoup my morale,” Lopez said. “The support we’ve gotten from the community speaks volumes.”
Lopez said his restaurant was a supporter of the community before the 2012 raids and will continue to do so by contributing to local organizations and schools where his two children, ages 17 and 14, attend. That commitment helped Acapulco Mexican Restaurants earn the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year award in 2011.
As the case filtered through courts, various media reports identified Adolfo and Benito Lopez as brothers. Adolfo Lopez says the reality is that he and Benito are not related, only business partners. Benito Lopez owned a third of the Batesville restaurant, of which Adolfo Lopez also owned a third, he said.
“I don’t have any relationship to this guy except the same last name,” said Lopez. “I met him through working here in Indiana.”
Most of the old Acapulco locations in Versailles, Batesville, Rising Sun, and Aurora have reopened under different owners and new names.