El Fuego restaurant owners plead guilty in tax scheme

Franklin family may get jail time

Last updated on April 2nd, 2021 at 11:01 pm

The owners of several Milwaukee-area restaurants have filed plea agreements in their federal tax conspiracy case and could get jail time.

Paul Bouraxis, 65, his wife, Freida Bouraxis, 60, and their son, Andreas Bouraxis, 38, all of Franklin, own the El Fuego restaurant on West Layton Avenue in Milwaukee, Omega Burger restaurant on South 27th Street in Franklin and El Beso on South 74th Street in Greenfield. The family also owns Mad Rooster Cafe on Greenfield Avenue in Milwaukee, which was not included in the case, and is planning to open a second Mad Rooster location in Waukesha.

The family was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2015, and today announced a plea deal has been reached on the 33 charges. Their son-in-law, Reiad “Ray” Awadallah, 44, was included in the investigation but was not named in the plea deal.

Paul, Freida and Andreas have all pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS, and Paul also pleaded guilty to tax evasion regarding his 2010 personal income tax return.

They allegedly skimmed more than $3 million in cash from the businesses from 2007 to 2010 and hid it by never depositing the funds, building up a stash of more than $1.7 million in cash that was seized by federal agents in September 2012. In addition, the family bought jewelry and precious metals, including silver bars.

According to the indictment, the defendants also allegedly paid employees of the restaurants in cash and did not withhold or pay taxes on those wages, underpaying federal income and payroll taxes by more than $1.3 million.

Paul, Andreas and Awadallah were charged with tax evasion stemming from tax returns and payroll tax returns from 2009 to 2011.

Paul also was charged with bank fraud related to loans from Associated Bank. According to the indictment, he defaulted on the loans and renegotiated their terms based on false information about his financial situation. He did not reveal the cash hoard or more than $2 million in Greek bank accounts. Associated Bank lost more than $4 million through the fraud.

As part of the plea deal, the family will forfeit $442,000 of the seized funds to the U.S. government. The remaining seized funds and their precious metals and jewelry will go toward their back taxes.

Through the agreements, Paul would be sentenced to two years in prison, Andreas would be locked up for 366 days, and Freida would get six months of house arrest.

Paul’s actions could have gotten him 85 years in prison and a fine of up to $3.75 million. Freida faced five years and $250,000, Andreas was subject to 19 years and $4.75 million and Awadallah faces up to 14 years behind bars and up to $1 million in fines.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

No posts to display