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Owners of popular Japanese restaurants sent to prison for insurance fraud, sales tax evasion

In recent uninsured employer news, a California restaurateur was sentenced to two years in prison earlier this week after pleading guilty to a multitude of insurance fraud and sales tax evasion charges.

Simon Sungheok Hong, 45, and his wife, Katie Kyanghee Shinn, 44, were the proprietors of Maki Maki, a chic Japanese restaurant with two prominent locations (the Irvine Spectrum and The River at Rancho Mirage).

According to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, the couple engaged in a systematic pattern of fraudulent activity dating back to 2001, when they opened the first restaurant.

Specifically, prosecutors alleged that the couple failed to pay both work comp premiums and unemployment insurance for many years, a practice that resulted in them illegally withholding up to $2.1 million.

This rather sizeable sum of money would have otherwise been paid to the California State Compensation Insurance Fund, the Employment Development Department, and the state Board of Equalization.

When the fraud was eventually uncovered, the couple was charged with a litany of felonies and faced upwards of 23 years in prison.

Shinn pleaded guilty to 14 felonies in December, and was subsequently sentenced to four years in prison earlier this month. Hong pleaded guilty to the same 14 felonies in January and was sentenced to two years in prison this week.

If you are an uninsured California employer facing a real problem - prospective fine, prosecution, an employee injury or litigation - there are steps that can be taken to minimize the consequences. In these difficult circumstances, you may want to consider consulting with an experienced legal professional.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

Related Resources:

Fancy eatery owner gets 2 years in prison (The Orange County Register)

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