"It's simple. It's a criminal case about theft, forgery, perjury, racketeering...", noted Indiana Excise Police Master Officer Tim Sutton, who is the lead investigator in the Acapulco Restaurant ongoing criminal case against its owners.
Sutton says people may have become confused when over 100 arrest warrants came out and many of those served in one day on employees of Acapulco Restaurants in Lawrenceburg, Batesville and Versailles. Many of those charges later were dropped.
An Amended Probable Cause has now been filed on the owners, Adolfo Lopez and Benito Lopez, of the restaurant chain that expands into Ohio and Kentucky and has 11 restaurants in all.
While Sutton agrees the case is complicated in many ways, he says the newest filings should simplify things.
Sutton responds to the fact that of the over 100 arrest warrants that were issued, many of those people have been released. He said some were here in this country illegally and have been deported. He says other are out of jail on federal bond. The ones who have social security numbers they can trace, or were here illegally, they have been able to deal with.
Those with false social security numbers are the hardest. Sutton says some were traced to people who are deceased, minors, or numbers that belong to someone else entirely.
It's true. Some of those with warrants out for them will not be arrested. However, he noted that some who are out of jail now, could still face charges down the road. "These charges could be refiled," Sutton told The Versailles Republican.
Sutton says the criminal charges against the owners is far from over and will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. He noted that the theft charges are due to the owners not paying the proper amount of sales tax, which is stealing from every Hoosier, along with the state.
The pending case only reveals records from the restaurants since 2008. Sutton says they have been in business since 2004.
The Lopez's are accused of showing a certain amount of money on their records, but turning in a lower amount on which they paid taxes. "Other businesses in the area can't get away with it and they shouldn't either," Sutton noted. From Jan. 1, 2008 through Aug. 30, 2012, the restaurant chain hid over $4 million from the state. This was total unreported cash sales. Officers found about $3.4 million in safety deposit boxes in various banks. They were hiding roughly 30% of their money from the government, stashing it away in safety deposit boxes.
Other crimes committed seem to hit home a little harder for those in the work force. A worker for Adolfo Lopez told police that when he was hired he was told he would only be working for tips. Then he stated that he worked 60-65 hours per week for about four years receiving only tips as his compensation.
He said he was instructed by Adolfo Lopez to create a time sheet and post it in the kitchen for all employees to follow, after the restaurant in Lawrenceburg was inspected by the Department of Labor. However, the victim maintains that the time sheet was false and the employees were warned they would be fired if they did not follow the false time sheet.
Another employee was told he did not need a social security number to work. He was later supplied with a social security number for $120.00. This practice of obtaining false numbers was a common thing for the employees, according to court records.
The amended probable cause has been signed by the Dearborn County Prosecutor and Judge and will now proceed to trial sometime in June in Dearborn County. For now, only Adolfo and Benito Lopez are charged with crimes and will stand trial.
The case that has been boiled down to charges against two men, has been complex with Sutton working long hours for the past four years looking at literally thousands of numbers, trying to make sense out of it all.
Both Lawrenceburg and Batesville restaurant sites have reopened, but Versailles Acapulco Restaurant remains closed for now.