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Owner Of Cesar's Restaurant In Lakeview Pleads Guilty In Tax Fraud Case, Gets 2 Years

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An owner of Cesar's Killer Margaritas restaurant on in Lakeview has pleaded guilty to underreporting more than $1 million in sales, the Illinois Attorney General's office announced Wednesday.

Sandra Sanchez, 45, of Morton Grove, pleaded guilty before Cook County Criminal Court Judge Michael Obbish to possessing an automated sales suppression device – also called a "tax zapper," according to the office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Sanchez was sentenced to two years in prison and one year of unsupervised release, and was immediately taken into custody, the Attorney General's office said.

Her prosecution was one of the first under a state law that forbids the use of technology to help falsify business records.

Sanchez is the owner of Cesar's at 3166 N. Clark St. just south of Belmont Avenue. The restuarant also has a location at 2924 N. Broadway.

She was charged in 2017 with defrauding the state out of more than $100,000 in tax revenue, the Attorney General's office said.

The office said between 2012 and 2015, Sanchez used a zapper, or sales suppression software, so as to falsify more than $1 million worth of electronic sales records to avoid paying the full amount of sales and use taxes due to the state each month.

Tax zapper software automatically deletes all of a business' records of cash sales transactions and reconcile data, so that the reported sales appear to match the reported income, the Attorney General's' office said.

Illinois banned the use of such software and devices in 2013, and this was the state's first prosecution involving zapper technology.

"The case should send a message to all business owners who attempt to use tax suppression devices to defraud the state," Raoul said in a news release. "Using technology will not prevent you from getting caught, and it certainly will not protect you from being held accountable."

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