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Former restaurant owner sentenced

A former Suffolk restaurant owner was sentenced in Suffolk General District Court last week to five days in jail for failure to appear for a court date.

Jose Moncada is charged with eight counts of failure to pay meals taxes. Trial on those charges is currently set for Dec. 8. But Judge Alfred W. Bates III went ahead and handed down the sentence for Moncada’s failure to appear for a prior court hearing on the charges.

Suffolk restaurateurs are required to charge their customers a 6.5-percent city tax on food and drinks served in their establishments, which is included as part of the bill each customer pays. They hold that tax until the 20th of every month, when they are required to turn over to the city the amount due from the prior month.

However, some restaurants get behind if they use the money to pay operating expenses and then are unable to make it up when it comes due, Treasurer Ronald Williams has said.

Moncada currently owes $11,932.30, Deputy Treasurer Keith Ainsley said this week. His restaurant, East Coast Taco Co., was formerly located on West Washington Street.

“I’m really serious about it,” Bates said during Thursday’s court hearing for Moncada. “Everybody else is paying their taxes.”

Moncada told the judge he did not appear at the prior hearing, because he was working a catering job in an effort to better his financial situation. He said he works for Grande Burrito Grill in Virginia Beach.

Ainsley said an effort to collect the taxes through a payroll lien at Moncada’s current employer failed, because the owner said he never received the paperwork.

The judge agreed to delay requiring Moncada to report for his five-day sentence until after the Dec. 8 hearing.

Owners of three other eateries that were charged with failure to pay meals tax at the same time back in February all have paid the arrears, and the charges were dismissed.

Derl’z Restaurant and Pub paid off all items that were before the court, and charges were dismissed in September, Ainsley said.

Charges against Homer’s Drive In and the Hog Pen were dismissed in July after the owners paid their arrears. Both of those businesses are now closed.