Owners of El Balazo taqueria chain sentenced for immigration and tax fraud

By Robert Salonga

Contra Costa Times

Posted:   04/26/2012 10:06:38 AM PDT

Updated:   04/26/2012 09:41:55 PM PDT

Link: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20487004/owners-popular-bay-area-taqueria-chain-sentenced-immigration


  • The entrepreneurial feel-good story of El Balazo collapsed for good Tuesday, when Marino Sandoval, 59, was sentenced to 41 months in prison. His wife, 51-year-old Nicole Sandoval, was sentenced to five years of probation and one year of community confinement, according to federal prosecutors. The Pleasanton couple was also ordered to pay $2,216,010 in restitution to the IRS.
  • The raids were met with some outrage, particularly in San Francisco, where advocates for the arrestees argued that the actions violated the city’s “safe haven” policies for undocumented immigrants.
  • After federal authorities confronted Marino Sandoval with their findings, he rehired at least 10 of the unauthorized employees, prosecutors said.
  • Nicole Sandoval would later admit to underreporting employees’ wages to decrease the businesses’ tax burdens and providing false Social Security numbers for them.


  • Yet another “American Success Story” is exposed as a tax cheat.
  • Worse, El Balazo’s underreporting of employees’ wages to decrease the businesses’ tax burdens gave El Balazo a competitive advantage that surely harmed their competitors who obeyed the laws and paid their taxes.

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