Owner of 5 Pepe's Mexican Restaurants in Chicago area sentenced for underreporting taxes

The owner of five Pepe’s Mexican Restaurants in the Chicago area has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for filing false corporate tax returns.

Juan C. Hurtado, 45, of Joliet pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of making a false statement in a tax return. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John F. Kness sentenced Hurtado to 15 months in federal prison and fined him $45,000.


Hurtado had restaurant locations in Chicago, Tinley Park, Hickory Hills, Matteson and Chicago Heights.

In a plea agreement, Hurtado admitted that from 2016 to 2018 he was responsible for the filing of 11 false corporate tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. He also underreported to the state of Illinois the receipts and sales of his restaurants by about $2.5 million. Hurtado admitted to making false sales reports that he gave to his accountants.

"Defendant engaged in this conduct solely out of greed," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick D. Young said in a statement. "He wanted more money for himself at the expense of other taxpayers who pay their fair share of taxes."