Auburn Hills diner, owners charged with underreporting sales on taxes, failing to file returns

Joo’s Inc., Seok Chu, Hwajeong Joo facing charges

A table setting at a restaurant. (Pixabay/Photo MIX Company)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – An Auburn Hills diner and its owners are facing felony charges for underreporting sales on tax returns and failing to file returns, authorities said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Joo’s Inc., which also operated as Makimoto and Makimoto Sushi Bar, ignored attempts by the Department of Treasury to audit the diner in 2017.

An investigation revealed the diner filed false tax returns by underreporting its gross sales in 2015, 2016, and 2017, according to authorities.

The diner is also accused of failing to file sales tax or corporate income tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

Owner Seok Chu failed to file personal income tax returns in 2015, 2018, and 2019, Nessel said. Owner Hwajeong Joo didn’t file personal income tax returns in 2017 and 2018, according to authorities.

The diner’s unreported and underreported sales for 2015-2019 totaled nearly $2 million, Michigan officials said.

The business has been charged with three counts of making/permitting a false sales tax return, two counts of failure to file a sales tax return, and two counts of failure to file a corporate income tax return.

Chu is charged with three counts of making/permitting a false sales tax return, two counts of failure to file a sales tax return, two counts of failure to file a corporate income tax return, and three counts of failure to file an income tax return.

Joo is charged with two counts of failure to file an income tax return.

The charges were filed in Ingham County’s 54-A district Court, and the arraignment took place Monday afternoon (May 16).

Each charge is a five-year felony upon conviction, authorities said.

“I appreciate the work done by our partners at the Department of Treasury that resulted in these charges,” Nessel said. “We remain committed to ensuring our tax laws are being properly followed.”

The diner is now under new ownership, according to officials.

A probable cause conference is scheduled for May 27, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for June 3.


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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.