Chef Tony Hu of Chicago’s famed Lao Sze Chuan restaurant had a large and well-regarded empire of Chinese restaurants that earned tens of millions in annual sales, but this week he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for tax fraud and money laundering.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Hu pleaded guilty in May to the charges after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence that receipts had been falsified and records doctored to make it look like Hu’s restaurants were less profitable than they really were. Prosecutors say Hu’s empire made over $40 million in sales in a year, and after he pleaded guilty, Hu admitted to prosecutors that he hid over $10 million in receipts from cash transactions, skirting around a million dollars in Illinois sales tax in the process.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors were asking for four years of prison time for Hu, while Hu and his lawyers were asking for just probation. The restaurateur already sold off several restaurants and paid $1.087 million in restitution for the dodged taxes.
The judge decided that the restitution and probation were not penalty enough, but that four years was too much. In the end, she sentenced him to a year and a day in prison, and a $100,000 fine.