Chuy's former owner gets probation, must pay restitution

2014-07-22T16:30:00Z 2014-07-23T09:33:59Z Chuy's former owner gets probation, must pay restitutionBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The former owner of several Tucson-area Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler restaurants was sentenced to five years’ probation for charges related to hired illegal workers Monday in U.S. District Court in Tucson .

Judge David C. Bury sentenced Christopher Evenson, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to impede and impair the function of the Internal Revenue Service and one count of engaging in a pattern and practice of hiring illegal aliens.

Evenson, 42, and his father, Mark Evenson, owned 15 of the restaurants in Arizona and California. In 2011, they were arrested along with the company’s bookkeeper on charges they unlawfully hired illegal immigrants, conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and tax evasion.

When federal agents raided the restaurants in 2011, they arrested 40 illegal immigrants working at the restaurants here and in California.

Federal prosecutors accused the Evensons of paying the illegal workers with checks but never reporting the earnings in tax returns.

Between 2008 and 2011, the Evensons did not pay nearly $400,000 in FICA taxes, according to the original indictment in the case.

In the wake of the raids and indictments, the Evensons closed their Tucson Chuy’s restaurants. Two Chuy’s restaurants under different ownership remain open in the Tucson area.

Charges against Mark Evenson, 62, were dropped earlier this year because he was deemed mentally unable to stand trial. A 2004 car accident left him partially paralyzed and brain damaged.

The company’s bookkeeper, Diane Ingrid Strehlow was earlier sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to impede and impair the IRS’ functions.

In addition to probation, Christopher Evenson was ordered to pay about $95,000 in restitution.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@tucson.com On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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