San Diego restaurant owner, majority owner of Rockstar Dough LLC and Chicken Feed LLC, charged in tax fraud and coronavirus relief schemes

San Diego restaurant owner, majority owner of Rockstar Dough LLC and Chicken Feed LLC, charged in tax fraud and coronavirus relief schemes

February 6, 2024 – A federal grand jury in San Diego returned a superseding indictment on February 2, charging a California man with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit Wire fraud, tax evasion, filing false tax returns, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and failure to file tax returns.

According to the indictment, Leronce Sowell was the majority owner of Rockstar Dough LLC and Chicken Feed LLC, both of which operated restaurants in the San Diego area. He allegedly conspired with his business partner to underreport more than $1.7 million in gross revenue on Rockstar Dough LLC’s 2020 corporate tax return filed with the IRS. The indictment alleges that from March 2020 to June 2022, Suel and her business partner then used this false corporate tax return to qualify for the Coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program and Restaurant Revitalization Finance Loans. Sowell also allegedly testified falsely on loan forgiveness applications that he spent the money his restaurants received from these programs solely for payroll. The indictment accuses Sowell and his co-conspirator of making large cash withdrawals from their business bank accounts to launder fraudulently obtained funds. As part of the conspiracy, Sowell and his co-conspirator allegedly hid more than $2.4 million in cash in their home.

The indictment also charges that Sowell failed to report income he earned from his businesses, including millions of dollars in cash and personal expenses paid by the companies, such as rent on his home. In 2023, Suel also allegedly filed original and amended tax returns for prior tax years that included false depreciable assets and business losses.

If convicted, Sowell faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 10 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and five years in prison for each count of tax evasion and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Defrauding the United States, to three years on each count of filing false tax returns, and one year on each count of failure to file tax returns. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other legal factors.

The announcement was made by Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Tara K. McGrath for the Southern District of California.

The IRS Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Attorney Julia Rugg of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Peeler for the Southern District of California.

The indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

    (tags for translation) San Diego Restaurant Owner

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