Local restaurant pleads guilty to 64 felonies in tax embezzlement scheme

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette last Friday announced that Sushi Samurai Inc. owned by Christina and Dong Hyun Chang, of Orchard Lake, has pleaded guilty to 64 felonies for embezzling sales tax paid by customers and underreporting their income at their restaurant Sushi Samurai.

The plea entered late last Thursday, October 19, relates specifically to Sushi Samurai Inc. Owners Dong Hyun, 46, and Christina Chang, 51, still face the following charges:

- One count of Embezzlement over $100,000, a felony punishable by a maximum term of up to 20 years in the state prison and/or a fine up to $50,000, or 3 times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater.

- One count of Conspiracy to Embezzle over $100,000, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in the state prison and a $10,000 additional fine.

- One count of Possession of an automated sales suppression device, a felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison.

- 59 counts of filing false monthly sales tax returns, a felony punishable by up to 5 years and/or a $5,000 fine.

- Five counts of filing false joint income tax returns, punishable by up to 5 years and/or a $5,000 fine.

"This business knowingly cheated the law for their own personal gain," said Schuette. "This case is a result of a collaboration between the Department of Attorney General and Department of Treasury and I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work in stopping this illegal activity to resolve this case."

The restaurant pleaded guilty on Thursday, October 19, in the Oakland County Circuit Court before Judge Phyllis McMillen. Sentencing has been set for November 30 at 1 p.m. Sushi Samurai is also required to pay restitution for their unpaid taxes in the amount of $274,378.52 in income taxes, penalty and interest and $706,101.07 in sales tax, penalty and interest.

The Changs were charged after a joint investigation by the Department of Attorney General and the Department of Treasury into whether the restaurant was using an illegal Point of Sale (POS) sales suppression software.

During the investigation, it was determined that the sales in Sushi Samurai's records were significantly higher than those reported to the state. The "zapper" software essentially deletes sales from the Point of Sale records. It was determined that thousands of sales receipts had been deleted.

After further investigation, it was determined that in total the Changs via their business embezzled over $170,000 in sales tax receipts alone. In addition, over $2.5 million in sales were allegedly never reported or accounted for in income tax filings between 2012-2016. The Changs used this money for business and personal expenses.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Published: Mon, Oct 23, 2017