El Balazo restaurant couple sentenced for tax evasion, other charges
Pleaded guilty to tax fraud, hiring illegal immigrants
Marino Sandoval and his wife Nicole, the Pleasanton couple who owned and ran the El Balazo restaurants in Pleasanton, Danville, San Ramon and in three additional East Bay locations, were sentenced last week for immigration, Social Security and tax charges connected to their restaurants.
Marino Sandoval, 59, was sentenced to 41 months in prison; Nicole Sandoval, 51, was sentenced to five years probation and 12 months of community confinement.
In addition, the pair was ordered to pay more than $2.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Sandovals pleaded guilty in September, admitting they understated employment taxes due the IRS. Marino Sandoval also admitted to hiring employees he knew were not legally authorized to work in the United States, while Nicole Sandoval admitted that she under reported employee wages to a payroll company.
According to a plea agreement, Marino Sandoval employed more than 100 illegal aliens, many of whom were born outside the U.S., between August 2007 and August 2008.
Nicole Sandoval also pleaded guilty to misusing employee Social Security numbers. She admitted in court that Social Security numbers given the Social Security Administration and the IRS were false and included the names of undocumented aliens.
The case dates back to a raid in 2008, when agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations conducted a search of several El Balazo Restaurants. They found 63 employees who were unauthorized to work in the United States.
After being informed by federal agents of the identities of the unauthorized employees, Marino Sandoval rehired more than 10 of these employees.
The couple was charged in 2010 with harboring and employing illegal aliens, knowingly misusing employees' Social Security numbers and engaging in tax fraud between 2003 and 2005.
Marino Sandoval's brother, Francisco Sandoval, pleaded guilty to tax charges in August 2010. He was sentenced to three years probation for failure to pay payroll taxes and for harboring illegal aliens, and also ordered to pay the IRS $50,000 in restitution. Francisco Sandoval was the partner and manager of two El Balazo restaurants located in San Francisco.