The husband and wife owners of a Bay Area Mexican restaurant chain were sentenced Tuesday, April 24, on various immigration, Social Security and tax violations uncovered during a probe involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and several other federal agencies.
Marino Sandoval, 59, and Nicole Sandoval, 51, owners of El Balazo Restaurant, appeared in federal court Tuesday, April 24. Marino Sandoval was sentenced to 41 months in prison. Nicole Sandoval was sentenced to five years' probation and 12 months of community confinement. In addition, the two were ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
At the hearing, Marino Sandoval also admitted hiring employees who were not authorized to work in the
Aside from the tax charges, Nicole Sandoval also pleaded guilty to misusing El Balazo employees' Social Security numbers that were provided to the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Between 2002 and 2007, Nicole Sandoval submitted, on behalf of El Balazo, the employer's quarterly contribution and wage reports to the Social Security Administration. The reports included the names of undocumented alien employees receiving wages from their employment. In court, Nicole Sandoval admitted she was aware the Social Security numbers submitted were not the numbers assigned to the employees.
The couple was charged by criminal information in November 2010 with harboring and employing illegal aliens; misusing employees' Social Security numbers; and engaging in tax fraud.
In addition to HSI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General also participated in the probe. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Corrigan and Thomas Newman with further support provided by Kathleen Turner.