Mexican Restaurant Owner Sentenced

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(WOIO) - Ramon J. Ornelas was sentenced to one year and one day in prison today after previously pleading guilty to eight counts of harboring and concealing illegal aliens, three counts of mail fraud, and seven counts of subscribing to a false tax return.

Ornelas, 42, of Norwalk was the principal owner of eight Casa Fiesta Mexican restaurants located in Youngstown, Vermilion, Ashland, Norwalk, Fremont, Oberlin, Oregon and Sandusky, Ohio, according to the criminal information.

The restaurants regularly employed numerous undocumented workers, failed to obtain proper immigration documents for such workers, sometimes provided places to live for the workers, routinely paid the workers in cash without withholding of FICA and Medicare taxes for the Internal Revenue Service, and submitted false documents to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services which did not report the names of undocumented workers, according to the information.

On July 23, 2008 federal search warrants were executed at each restaurant, and 58 undocumented Mexican Nationals employed at the restaurants were taken into the custody of U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In addition to harboring and concealing the illegal aliens, the information also charges Ornelas with filing false Forms 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for not claiming the undocumented workers and underreporting the tax due and owing the IRS.

Ornelas is also charged with mail fraud for filing false Ohio Contribution Reports with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services which underreported the number of workers at the restaurants and therefore underpaid taxes due the State for unemployment insurance.

Ornelas was also sentenced to two years of supervised release and a $1,800 special assessment.

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