PLEASANTON (CBS SF) — A Pleasanton couple pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland on Wednesday to immigration, social security and tax violations related to the operation of their restaurant chain El Balazo, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Marino Sandoval, 58, and his wife Nicole Sandoval, 50, were charged in November 2010 with harboring and employing illegal immigrants, knowingly misusing employee’s social security numbers and tax fraud.

In May 2008, federal immigration agents raided several El Balazo taquerias and determined that the couple was employing 63 illegal immigrants.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marino Salazar later re-hired at least 10 of the illegal employees after receiving written notification from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security investigators informing him of the employees’ identities.

The couple owned and operated the restaurants with Marino Sandoval’s brother, Francisco Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to tax charges in August 2010.

Francisco Sandoval, 55, of Alameda, was sentenced in December to three years’ probation and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Marino and Nicole Sandoval are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 14.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


Comments (7)
  1. Withheld says:

    I talked to these people at one point. Their lawyer advised them to follow the law and they were outraged. I advised they follow the law and they said they believe following the law is for suckers, that nobody was following the law, and they were at a competitive disadvantage if they did. I told them it was probably not true that others weren’t following the law, and that even if it were true, their challenge was to make it work within the law. You have to raid and prosecute people like this.

    1. Jorge says:

      nah, we are firm believers in the free market. Eff the Feds.

      1. unknown says:

        Okay keep your attitude,and you will not like your time in jail

      2. Withheld says:

        Not sure what you mean, Jorge. In the USA, we require I-9 forms to prove eligibility to work. It’s the same requirements that other countries have. If you cheat this requirement, you are subject to criminal penalties and fines. If you compound your crime by cheating on employment tax requirements, fabricate records, and commit multiple acts of fraud, then you get more time.

        They employed illegal immigrants so that they could pay them less than the SF minimum wage (actually less than the California minimum wage, too). When they told me they did this, I told them that it was a stupid thing to do and that they should charge more for the burritos if necessary to make the business model work.

        Their goal was to exploit Mexican workers to get rich selling cheap Mexican food. The best place to do that is Mexico. If you try it in the US, we’ll take you down. We don’t believe in that bs in this country.

  2. Philip Scharfy says:

    So, J! You have not learned to keep your mouth shut…the mole people will be paying you a visit shortly…

  3. post police says:

    @J ; Remember wherever you go we’ll be there watching

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