New Ulm restaurant operator charged with multiple felony tax crimes

Date of Release

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced that the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office recently charged Juan Manuel Ocampo-Bunola, of New Ulm, with 29 tax-related felonies. He is charged with 24 felony counts of assisting in the filing of false or fraudulent sales tax returns and 5 felony counts filing false or fraudulent individual income tax returns.

According to the complaints, Mr. Ocampo-Bunola is CEO of Las Lomas Inc, dba Plaza Garibaldi, located in Redwood Falls, MN. While the company is registered under his wife’s name, the complaints allege that Mr. Ocampo-Bunola was intimately involved in the operations of the restaurant as well as two other related restaurants, Plaza Garibaldi in New Ulm and La Terraza in Mankato. Using his access to the restaurants’ point-of-sale systems, Mr. Ocampo-Bunola allegedly removed hundreds of sales transactions each month, assisting the restaurants in underreporting their sales on their tax returns for multiple periods from January 2017 through December 2020. Additionally, the complaints allege that by underreporting sales from the restaurants, Mr. Ocampo-Bunola also underreported income on the individual income tax returns he filed jointly with his wife for tax years 2016 through 2020. In all, Mr. Ocampo-Bunola allegedly owes more than $570,000 in tax, penalties, and interest.

Each tax-related felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Although most taxpayers comply with tax laws voluntarily, the department takes enforcement action against noncompliant taxpayers to ensure that tax laws are administered fairly.

Many of the department’s criminal case referrals come from public tips. There is a 24-hour tip line for anyone who suspects that a person or business is violating Minnesota tax laws. Local callers may dial 651-297-5195 or call toll-free by dialing 1-800-657-3500. Tips can also be submitted to the department by email at Tipsters may choose to remain anonymous. 

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Ryan Brown