June 9, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The owner of a well-known restaurant and nightclub in Woodside has been convicted of defrauding the state out of at least $1 million in sales tax.
Oscar Monegro, who owns Mamajuana Café Queens, located at 33-15 56th St., pleaded guilty to grand larceny and criminal tax fraud for filing bogus financial reports over an eight-year period, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced Monday.
The case was prosecuted by the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
According to the charges, Monegro underreported his sales revenue between December 2012 and February 2020 and failed to pay $1 million in sales tax that he had collected.
Monegro’s crimes were discovered by tax investigators while they were analyzing his returns. He operates the restaurant, which has a distinctly Latin theme, under the corporate name Culturas Fiesta Inc.
Monegro has been ordered to pay back $1 million in restitution, prosecutors said. They did not say whether fines or penalties were levied against him.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that Monegro stole the money to line his own pockets. However, she said the repayment will now help fund community services.
“Tax evasion hurts our economy and diverts funding away from vital public programs… this will not stand in Queens County,” Katz said.
Amanda Hiller, the acting New York State commissioner of taxation and finance, echoed Katz’s sentiments.
“Business owners who steal sales tax paid by their customers deprive their communities of revenue for vital public programs and services — and put law-abiding businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” Hiller said.
“We’ll continue to work with all our partners in law enforcement to uncover tax evasion and level the playing field for all businesses.”