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Published: Friday, 1/22/2010

Owner of restaurants facing immigration, tax charges

The owner of several Mexican restaurants throughout northern Ohio was charged in U.S. District Court in Toledo yesterday for allegedly employing numerous undocumented workers and failing to obtain proper immigration documents.

Ramon J. Ornelas, 42, of Norwalk, Ohio, was charged with eight counts of harboring and concealing illegal aliens, three counts of mail fraud, and seven counts of subscribing to a false tax return. No court date has been set.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, search warrants were executed at each of Mr. Ornelas' eight restaurants July 23, 2008, and 58 undocumented Mexican nationals were taken into custody. Mr. Ornelas is principal owner of Casa Fiesta Mexican restaurants in Oregon, Sandusky, Youngstown, Vermilion, Ashland, Norwalk, Fremont, and Oberlin.

Mr. Ornelas also is charged with filing false federal tax records for not claiming the undocumented workers and underreporting the taxes owed the Internal Revenue Service. He faces mail fraud charges for filing false Ohio Contribution Reports because he underpaid taxes due the state for unemployment insurance when he allegedly underreported the number of workers at the restaurants.

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