Owner of Lao Sze Chuan charged with underreporting cash receipts


Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Lao Sze Chuan, a chain restaurant throughout the Chicago area, has an Evanston location at 1633 Orrington Ave. The owner of the chain, Tony Hu, was charged for wire fraud and money laundering in federal court Friday.

Robin Opsahl, City Editor

Tony Hu, a celebrity chef who owns Chinese restaurants throughout the Chicago area including Evanston’s Lao Sze Chuan, was charged in federal court Friday for hiding cash receipts to avoid paying state sales taxes.

Hu faces charges for wire fraud and money laundering in withholding taxes from the Illinois Department of Revenue, according to court documents. Illinois restaurants are required to keep daily records of their gross sales and file those receipts and taxes to the Department of Revenue each month. When customers paid for food in cash, Hu modified the sales records to conceal cash transactions and deposited the money into his personal bank account.

Hu then allegedly used the withheld cash to pay for his restaurants’ expenses, including employees and suppliers, without recording the expenses in any records or official documentation.

According to court documents, authorities claimed that Hu’s actions occurred between January 2010 and September 2014.

Hu, whose real name is Hu Xiaojun, ran at least 11 restaurants in the Chicago area — notably the Lao Sze Chuan chain, which has a location in Evanston at 1633 Orrington Ave. He also had resturants in places such as Las Vegas and Connecticut. Hu gained local fame because of his involvement in business and politics throughout Chicago, having been on public commissions and sitting on many Asian-American business associations in the city. The Evanston restaurant could not be reached for comment.

Hu will be arraigned Monday afternoon. If convicted, he could serve up to 30 years in prison.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @robinlopsahl