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El Balazo restaurant couple sentenced for tax evasion, other charges

Original post made on Apr 27, 2012

Marino Sandoval and his wife Nicole, the Pleasanton couple who owned and ran the El Balazo restaurants in Danville, San Ramon and in three additional East Bay locations, were sentenced Tuesday for immigration, Social Security and tax charges connected to their restaurants. Marino Sandoval, 59, was sentenced to 41 months in prison; Nicole Sandoval, 51, was sentenced to five years probation and 12 months of community confinement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 26, 2012, 2:21 PM

Comments (19)

Posted by Tony, a resident of Diablo
on Apr 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

This is a true tragedy. El Balazo was my favorite Mexican restaurant, unimposing cafeteria style, but great food and reasonable prices. No wonder the prices were reasonable, they had a very creative way of cutting costs. What a shame some people are so greedy. They could have made a good living and lived a very comfortable life by doing the "right thing", but no they couldn't.


Posted by Danville Patriot, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:12 am

...my question is why did Marino Sandoval have the opportunity to "rehire' 10 of his undocumented employees? Once found, shouldn't they have been deported back to their home countries...immediately?
The fact is this country could 'fix' the undocumented worker dilemma almost overnight if the politicians wanted: Fine every CEO, in America, personally, $10,000 for every undocumented worker found working under their umbrella. Believe you me, they would take steps overnight to correct this injustice, and start hiring true documented employees. BUT! Big business runs this country, they own our legislators, and they want cheap labor, no matter what.
My wife and I also enjoyed El Balazo: they had a winning combination when it came to running a restaurant in Danville, and we were sorry to see it close. That being said, we're also law-abiding citizens, and it would be nice if businesses would follow suit.


Posted by Just Joe, a resident of Danville
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

I really miss the Jerry's Burrito!


Posted by Joe, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:30 am

3 1/2 years and probation sounds like very light sentences for people who repeatedly defrauded the government and their workers!


Posted by Tania Hanson-DeYoung, a resident of Alamo
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

I hope everyone will remember how generous the Sandovals were to the community with sooo many donations, especially to our schools.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

Unbelievable that these people were able to cheat the US Government for so long and for so much money! Yes, hiring illegal immigrants to do work that many citizens in the US would refuse, however, society can't accept this anymore. In addition, these illegal immigrants most likely had some taxes withheld that they will never see again. The Sandovals decided to pocket that for themselves! What a shame!


Posted by Marrushi, a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

El Balazo is the best. I miss speaking Spanish to the workers there. RIP El Balazo.


Posted by Pedal Power, a resident of Danville
on Apr 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

RIP El Balazo. That used to be our favorite place to eat out and walk home from after a couple of their awesome $3 margaritas. I'd be more upset about the hiring of illegal workers if the US enforced any sort of coherent immigration policy. Guest worker program, anyone?


Posted by Another Joe, a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Actually the FBI also investigated how those donations were over reported and they were not so generous. More like greedy to rip off the government in paying taxes, even the schools lose on that. We the people have to make up the difference. They flaunted their wealth in the various neighborhoods they lived in with vacations, horses, big properties and tried to say how hard working they are. Mean while their stole from their employees and even from various band members who played at El Balazo. Nicole always said she would make sure her family each got their 15 minutes of fame. Well there you go. This should have been 3 strikes for Marino, as he was also convicted of pulling a gun in San Francisco on would be robbers while he was on probation. Surprised he is not there longer. And I think the IRS needs to look at La Palapa and Mama Rosa Pizza & Pasta, as this is also Sandoval owned.


Posted by Rhonda, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2012 at 12:59 am

And they have 4 children they should have at least considered that before they stole $2.2 million. Marino is such an unpleasant man. I wonder what he will be like after 3+ years in Federal Prison.


Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2012 at 1:03 am

This is what their patrons think of them: Web Link


Posted by Trish, a resident of Danville
on Apr 28, 2012 at 8:00 am

Talk about schools, this family had no problem lying to the SRVUSD with kids in tow that they were divorced and had several addresses so they could make sure their kids went to each of the schools they wanted, not their prospective feeder schools. The mom is a nut job and the dad is mean as hell. Ask any of their neighbors. Some were scared for those 4 children.


Posted by Devon, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

Consider this. In the news - Walmart who do not offer their employees benefits and are non-unionized so they can compete with other businesses, costing tax payers millions of dollars when one of them gets sick and ends up in emergency. They have not been caught cheating the IRS, which cheats us as well. This restaurant does all these things, and is unfair to the other business community. Unfair business practices hurt all of us. And to the Sandovals, don't do the crime (by the way this was a federal crime) if you can't to the time. And with 4 children, this makes it even sadder they would teach them to pay it forward and one more generation of cheats. I wonder how old the youngest is, because now they also will not be around for them. Was it all worth it?


Posted by g-man, a resident of Alamo
on Apr 28, 2012 at 11:45 am

Tania Hanson-DeYoung...... I will always remember those criminals.... Have fun in the pen Marino..... right where you belong...... Your wife is lucky she is not in the cell next to you...


Posted by Kathy, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Let me get this straight, donating to the community should excuse cheating on your taxes by $2.2+ million, hiring illegals,reporting ficitious SS# (these were not employees who gave them incorrect SS#), under-reporting income, transferring assets to other business interests - and this is not the first time Marino has been in trouble with the law. No, he thinks he is above the law. He rehired them back. No excuses ... the IRS didn't say oh let them slide because they dontated to the community. They probably lied about those donations as well.


Posted by Janet T, a resident of Danville
on Apr 29, 2012 at 10:49 am

I volunteered at several registrations and just figured they donated El Balazo coupons because Nicole would mutter she would not support the school donation because of her 4 kids going to "public" school. My children went to school with her 4 children and I NEVER saw any Sandoval parent volunteer their time. She also said by donating "freebies coupons" families would come in and buy meals and she made more money that way. They are greedy.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Danville
on May 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm

So thrilled they have been caught and punished. We don't need illegals or scam artists. It is a big lie illegals do work others will not---fits the agenda. College kids tried to get work in Watsonville fields but were laughed off property as Mexicans hung the American flag upside down on a field truck.


Posted by Dickita P, a resident of Alamo
on May 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm

What a tragedy that now when I want to produce mind-blowing farts I have to go to Faz. Such a shame.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Danville
on May 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm

@Sandy - come on! I see your nose growing from living room. So, these guys travel around with an American flag, just waiting for the opportunity to hang it upside down in front of poor college kids who want to slave in a field in a heat wave while being deprived of a proper bathroom. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense.


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