Tax fraud charges leveled against former Mpls. restaurateur

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed 68 counts of tax fraud against the owner of the Social House restaurant in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood, which closed earlier this year.

According to the complaint, 46-year-old Michael Ralph Whitelaw allegedly failed to report more than $1 million worth of income over a three-year period. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says Minnesota Department of Revenue agents discovered the discrepancy. Freeman said it's not uncommon for restaurant owners to come up short on their tax bills.

"A lot of times, people are in a cash-flow situation and the agents are able to work out a repayment program that makes sense, and we don't charge those people," he said. "But when someone like Whitelaw is this blatant, he asked for it and we gave it to him."

MPR News has been unable to reach Whitelaw for comment. Freeman says if he is found guilty, Whitelaw will have to pay more than $170,000 in taxes, penalties and interest.

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