Owner of Lao Sze Chuan chain pleads guilty to fraud, money laundering charges

Robin Opsahl, City Editor

Tony Hu, the owner of Evanston’s Lao Sze Chuan, pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and wire fraud charges in federal court Monday.

Hu, a famous chef in the Chicago area, reached a plea deal with prosecutors to pay state officials about $1.087 million in back taxes, part of a larger concealment scheme of over $10 million, the Chicago Tribune reported. When customers paid for food in cash, Hu, whose real name is Hu Xiaojun, modified the sales records to conceal cash transactions and deposited the money into his personal bank account, according to court documents, which allowed him to escape paying state sales taxes for the Illinois Department of Internal Revenue.

The guilty plea comes after Hu was brought to court Friday for hiding the cash receipts.

Hu runs at least 13 restaurants throughout the country — including the Lao Sze Chuan chain — with most in the Chicago area but some in locations such as Nevada and Connecticut. Hu gained local fame for his involvement in business and politics throughout Chicago, having been on public commissions and sitting on multiple Asian-American business associations in the city. The Evanston restaurant, which is located at 1633 Orrington Ave., could not be reached for comment.

According to his plea agreement, Hu faces as much as four years in prison under federal guidelines at his sentencing scheduled for Aug. 22.

Email: robinopsahl2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @robinlopsahl