The former manager of the San Diego Home Cooking restaurant chain was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison for failing to pay employment taxes over a period of several years.
Aleksandar Sreckovic, 53, was also ordered by a San Diego federal judge to serve one year of supervised release and pay about $2.3 million in restitution, according to the Department of Justice.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal employment tax fraud charge.
Prosecutors said that between the last quarter of 2014 and 2017, instead of filing employment tax returns or paying employment taxes for San Diego Home Cooking, Sreckovic "paid other creditors and his own personal expenses." The tax loss associated with the fraud totaled more than $1.5 million, according to the DOJ.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.
The restaurant group included more than 110 employees and five restaurants in the county: Cafe 56 & Bar and Mission Valley Cafe & Bar in San Diego, Lake Murray Cafe in La Mesa, Lakeside Cafe in Lakeside, and Centre City Cafe in Escondido.
In mid-2019, IRS agents executed a search warrant at Lake Murray Cafe, but details of the investigation were not made public at the time.
A defense sentencing memorandum states that the restaurants within the chain "operated at marginal profit" during the period Sreckovic failed to pay taxes and that several setbacks "further reduced the cash flow of the businesses."
The filing states that Sreckovic "did his best to make sure that all of the 100+ employees were paid ahead of him'' and is "remorseful, ashamed and embarrassed of not paying the employment taxes over to the IRS."
Editor's Note: A previous photo from this story showed a restaurant that is no longer affiliated with the San Diego Home Cooking restaurant chain. The photo has been removed. We regret the error and apologize to the current business owners.