Criminal charges against two out of three owners of the former Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, Batesville, appear to be near resolution. Separate negotiated plea agreements were signed Jan. 15 by defendants Benito Lopez, Batesville, and Adolfo Lopez, Lawrenceburg; their attorneys; and Aaron Negangard, prosecutor for Dearborn and Ohio counties.
The plea agreements are awaiting approval by Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James Humphrey, Negangard said Jan. 23.
For Benito Lopez, the state of Indiana agreed to dismiss three counts: corrupt business influence, conspiracy to commit corrupt business influence and forgery, Class C felonies. The defendant agreed to enter a guilty plea to the charge of perjury, a Class D felony, in connection with the investigation of alleged irregularities discovered at Acapulco Mexican restaurants in Batesville, Versailles, Lawrenceburg, Rising Sun and Aurora.
Charges originally were filed Sept. 24, 2012, against Benito Lopez, then 49, and Adolfo Lopez, then 43, who are not related, according to the prosecutor.
It was recommended that Benito Lopez be sentenced to 364 days, with all suspended to probation, according to the document. When formal sentencing in front of the judge takes place, he will have to pay administrative and monthly fees.
The plea agreement stated, “The defendant stipulates that all cash and/or currency seized and all vehicles seized are proceeds of criminal activity ... with the exception of real property.” Negangard noted, “He gets to keep his house.”
The Herald-Tribune reported Oct. 19, 2012, “Of the $3.5 million recovered by authorities through October 2012, almost 8 percent, $268,000 in cash, came from (Benito) Lopez, most found in a safety deposit box at FCN Bank, Batesville.”
The recommended punishment for Adolfo Lopez is greater. In the agreement, he pleaded guilty to corrupt business influence, theft, forgery and money laundering, Class C felonies; and perjury, a Class D felony. The state suggested an aggregate sentence for all counts of eight years, with six years suspended to in-home detention, which means he will be incarcerated for two years less time already served, if the judge signs the agreement. According to Negangard, “He’s required to make restitution of $305,661 ($61,608 on the date of sentencing in February, then monthly payments of $3,170) to the Department of Labor for unpaid sales taxes. The defendant also must pay the customary offender fees.