Plea Agreements In Acapulco Tax Dodging Cases
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Plea deals have been reached for two brothers accused of under reporting sales taxes at their restaurants throughout southeast Indiana.
Acapulco Mexican Restaurants were honored as the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2011. What happened in September of 2012 when Indiana Excise Police served warrants and raided several of the establishments in Dearborn, Ripley, and Ohio counties changed that perception.
Adolfo Lopez, of Greendale, and Benito Lopez, of Batesville, were each arrested during the raids. They were charged with felonies including Corrupt Business Influence, Conspiracy to Commit Corrupt Business Influence, Forgery, Perjury, and Identity Deception.
In all, 109 arrests were made including restaurant owners and employees. Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard dismissed the charges against 107 of those people – all but the Lopez brothers – in January of 2013.
Indiana Excise Police alleged the Lopezes were not reporting cash sales of $4.4 million between 2008 and 2012. The owners allegedly dodged paying sales taxes of more than $305,000 on that money.
In plea deals reached this week in Dearborn Circuit Court, Adolfo Lopez will plead guilty to charges of Corrupt Business Influence (Class C felony), Forgery (Class C felony), Theft (Class C felony), Money Laundering (Class C felony), and Perjury (Class D felony). Prosecutors recommend Adolfo Lopez receive an aggregate sentence of eight years with six of those years suspended to probation. He must also repay more than $305,000 in restitution to the Dearborn County Clerk of Courts for the unpaid sales taxes.
However, Adolfo Lopez’s plea deal is contingent on a unique condition: whether he passes a polygraph test. According to the agreement, a failed lie detector test would be grounds for prosecutors to withdraw the agreement.
Benito Lopez – who was in Mexico at the time of the raids, but came back to the U.S. to face the charges – owned the Batesville and Versailles Acapulco’s locations. He is pleading to a charge of Perjury (Class D felony). The state is recommending a sentence of 364 days on probation.
Both of the brothers will also have to forfeit money and property seized during the investigation. For Adolfo Lopez, that includes $61,607 and real property located at his Beckett Landing home in Greendale.
Sentencing hearings for the brothers will be held before Judge James D. Humphrey in Dearborn Circuit Court on Tuesday, February 25 at 10:00 a.m.
Many of the restaurant locations have since reopened, most under new names and ownership. The Lawrenceburg location still called Acapulco continues to be operated by Adolfo Lopez and his family.
New ownership runs the recently reopened Versailles location called Tapatio. The Aurora location now named Tequila’s and the Batesville restaurant El Toros continue to operate. The Rising Sun location is an American fare restaurant, also under a new owner.
Adolfo Lopez’s defense attorney, Doug Garner, declined to comment on the plea agreement.