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Suburban Pepe’s restaurant franchise owner pleads guilty to underreporting $2.5M in sales

The defendant owned locations in Chicago, Tinley Park, Hickory Hills, Matteson and Chicago Heights.

The Dirksen Federal Courthouse
The Dirksen Federal Courthouse
Sun-Times file

The owner of five Chicago-area Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant franchises pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to omitting about $2.5 million in sales from his corporate tax returns.

Juan C. Hurtado of Joliet pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement in a tax return, a charge punishable by up to three years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.

Hurtado owned a Pepe’s franchise in Chicago, at 7026 S. Archer Ave. in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, according to his plea agreement. He also owned south-suburban locations in Tinley Park, Hickory Hills, Matteson and Chicago Heights.

In the plea agreement, Hurtado admitted that from 2016 to 2018 he was responsible for filing 11 false corporate tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

He allegedly underreported the receipts and sales of his restaurants by about $2.5 million. Hurtado also allegedly admitted to making false sales reports that he gave to his accountants.

His sentencing date was set for June 7.