Elizabeth Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty to Evading Taxes on $844K in Income

The former owner of a restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, today admitted evading taxes on over $844,000 in income from his restaurant business, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

According to federal officials, Omar Rodriguez, 49, of Parlin, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to one count of an information charging him with tax evasion for 2015 through 2017.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Rodriguez owned Mojito LLC, d/b/a Mojito Lounge and Restaurant (Mojito’s), a restaurant that served Cuban cuisine. Mojito’s generated a substantial amount of gross cash receipts and Rodriguez admitted that he skimmed a substantial portion of this cash for his personal use, which he did not report as income, and to pay Mojito’s employees and suppliers in cash.

Between 2015 and 2017, Rodriguez received over $844,000 in income from Mojito’s that he failed to report to the IRS. Rodriguez caused Mojito’s to fail to report over $483,000 in cash payroll and to pay individual employment taxes. His conduct resulted in a $193,733 tax loss to the IRS for tax years 2015 through 2017.

The tax evasion charge to which Rodriguez pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and is punishable by a potential $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 15, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.