Willmar couple pleads guilty to one count felony tax charge each; court drops 15
WILLMAR -- The couple who formerly faced 16 felony counts for failing to file $290,000 of state income and sales tax returns for the La Michoacana grocery store in Willmar each pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony charge.
WILLMAR - The couple who formerly faced 16 felony counts for failing to file $290,000 of state income and sales tax returns for the La Michoacana grocery store in Willmar each pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony charge.
Juan Carlos Mejia, 44, and Martha A. Mejia, 43, of Long Prairie, admitted to failing to file income taxes in 2011. Martha Mejia entered an Alford plea on the charge, which means she does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that a reasonable jury could find her guilty of the offense.
As a result of the plea agreement, the remaining 15 felony counts of failing to file tax returns will be dismissed upon sentencing July 2.
According to the criminal complaint on the charges, at the time the charges were filed in April 2014, the couple operated grocery, restaurant and money transfer businesses in Willmar and Long Prairie and had been in business for at least 10 years.
The investigation by the state Department of Revenue began when a tipster reported to the department that several grocery stores, including the La Michoacana store, were suspected of not following tax and business regulations.
According to the criminal complaint on the charges, the tip led to a review of the Mejias’ income tax history, which showed that their business generated more than $1 million in revenue per year, but they paid little or no taxes because little or no taxable income was reported.
The investigation revealed that the couple did not file an income tax return for 2011 and a sales tax audit showed they underreported taxable sales by not reporting revenue from selling phone cards.
The state’s investigation, including evaluation of the tax returns that were filed by the couple, cash register tapes, bank and lending documents and documents from the couple’s financial representative, showed that the couple owed more than $238,000 in income taxes and $52,000 in sales tax for the years 2008 to 2011.