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Columbia restaurateur dodged taxes but paid for boat, strippers, US Attorney's office says

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Peter McCoy (copy)

United States Department of Justice United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina Peter McCoy Jr. Brad Nettles/Staff

COLUMBIA — A Columbia restaurant owner had the money for a boat and strippers because he failed to pay reported taxes for his employees, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Rafael Salas Jr., 52, of Columbia, has been sentenced to one and a half years in federal prison for failing to pay reported taxes for employees at his restaurant, Moonshiner's Patio Bar and Grill in Lexington.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy Jr., Salas reported that he was withholding money for Social Security and other taxes from the paychecks of about 20 restaurant employees from 2014 to 2016, but he kept the money himself.

This allowed him to spend $36,000 on expenses for his home, plus $11,000 toward a boat and about $10,000 in strip club expenses. 

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Salas was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mary G. Lewis to 18 months in prison plus three years of supervised release.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Salas at the time was on probation after being convicted in federal court of conspiracy to move mislabeled drugs across state lines.

The restaurant case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service.

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