Indiana State Excise Police detain suspects inside a van outside of the Acapulco Mexican Restaurant location in Lawrenceburg Monday afternoon.
Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Investigators are continuing to serve warrants in relation to a business corruption and tax dodging investigation at Mexican restaurants across southeast Indiana Tuesday.
Indiana State Excise Police, Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit detectives, and Lawrenceburg Police began to carry out 108 warrants – some for searches, most for arrests – on Monday at Acapulco restaurants and homes in Lawrenceburg, Aurora, Rising Sun, Versailles, and Batesville. It’s part of an 18-month investigation into corrupt business influence, Social Security fraud, and money laundering.
Investigators said there are various owners of the five area restaurants. Adolfo Lopez of Greendale solely owns the establishments in Lawrenceburg, Aurora, and Rising Sun. Adolfo Lopez, Benito Lopez of Batesville, and Abel Bustos of Lafayette, Indiana, all share ownership of the Batesville and Versailles locations. Maria Visoso, of Lawrenceburg, was also listed as a part-owner in Versailles.
As of Monday evening, 38 people across the region had been arrested in the sweep and $2.3 million had been seized. In addition to people, many boxes of documents and other evidence could be seen taken out of the restaurants.
The suspects were taken to local county jails, with 15 taken to the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center as officers served warrants at Acapulco locations in Lawrenceburg and Aurora.
“It’s not fair,” a couple employees cried as they were led out of the Lawrenceburg restaurant and loaded into a corrections van bound for the Dearborn County jail.
Most of the suspects were charged with Corrupt Business Influence, Conspiracy, and Identity Deception. Nearly all of those arrested had Latino names and were allegedly using fraudulent Social Security numbers on their W-2 tax forms dating back to 2008.
Those tax returns were prepared at the accounting office of Custom Business and Tax Solutions in Greenwood, Indiana. Detectives said Adolfo and Benito Lopez were the tax company’s shareholders. *Eagle 99.3 regrets that the information originally reported in this paragraph was not accurate. Adolfo and Benito Lopez are not shareholders in Custom Business and Tax Solutions in Greenwood. The information provided in the charging affidavit made it appear as though this was the case, but in reality it is not. We apologize for the innaccurate information.
According to a court affidavit, the case began when an audit revealed that there was a large discrepancy between the goods sold and the prices listed at the restaurant. Investigators found that Acapulco’s owners were allegedly not reporting cash sales, with the money instead being sent to Mexico. As a result, the restaurants were not paying the required sales tax on cash sales.
In one instance during the long investigation, an agent went to the restaurants in Dearborn and Ohio counties.
“When (the agent) went to pay for his meal it was noted that the cash register door was open and the transaction was not rung up on the cash register… …the bill was calculated on an adding machine tape,” the affidavit read.
It remains unclear if or when the restaurants may reopen. Excise police public information officer Travis Thickstun told Eagle 99.3 on Tuesday that the agency is not preventing the restaurants from reopening and that decision is up to the business owners.
Acapulco Mexican Restaurant was named the 2011 Business of the Year by the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce. The ownership had even received a $200,000 grant from the City of Lawrenceburg for an expansion of the location there, as well as help in refinishing the parking lot.
A phone call to the phone number listed for Adolfo Lopez at the same Greendale address given in the charging information went unanswered.