(West Harrison, Ind.) - 109 people were charged and/or arrested in a raid of Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurants across southeast Indiana in September.
Now, 107 of those people have seen their charges dismissed in Dearborn County. Prosecutor Aaron Negangard made the motion – containing over four pages of names and their cases to be dismissed – on Friday, January 4.
The only two people in connection with the Acapulco’s case still being charged are restaurant owners Adolfo Lopez, of Greendale, and Benito Lopez, of Batesville. Adolfo Lopez’s wife, Maria Lopez, was among those to see their charges dismissed. She continues to run the Lawrenceburg restaurant location.
Adolfo and Benito are set to go to trial on February 4 on charges of Corrupt Business Influence, Conspiracy to Commit Corrupt Business Influence, Forgery, Perjury, and Identity Deception. Indiana Excise Police said the Lopezes were not reporting cash sales of $4.4 million between 2008 and 2012. The owners allegedly dodged paying sales taxes of more than $305,000 on that money.
Benito Lopez – he owned the Batesville and Versailles Acapulco's locations – was in Mexico at the time of the raids, but came back to the U.S. soon afterwards to face the charges. He is currently out of jail on bond.
The numerous case dismissals will likely have little impact on Adolfo’s case, said Doug Garner, defense attorney for Adolfo Lopez. He said many of those arrested were held in jail on high bonds as a means for prosecutors to gain information against the Lopezes.
“The charges against most of these people were dismissed with no explanation from the prosecutor as to why they were charged to begin with, why some were held on very high bonds and why it took three months to decide to dismiss,” Garner said Tuesday.
The defense attorney called the round-up and detention of over 40 persons without evidence they committed crimes is one of the most troubling events he has experienced in 20 years of living in Dearborn County.
“Stuffing more than 40 people into an already overcrowded jail and holding them in inhuman conditions to further the investigation of allegations of failure to pay state sales taxes is reprehensible. It shows a callous disregard of the effect incarceration has on people that live and work in our community. It is part of an ‘us versus them’ mentality that is all too pervasive in society and particularly within our law enforcement, judicial and correctional administrations,” said Garner.
Many of the Acapulco’s employees arrested were illegal Mexican immigrants, as told by some of those employees during a November bond hearing for Adolfo Lopez. It is unclear if they stand to be deported with the charges having been dismissed.
Adolfo Lopez remains in jail on a $3 million surety and $250,000 cash bond.