Glad that his day in court is behind him, restaurant owner Daron Close said he’s moving forward.

Close was convicted in Ramsey County District Court Nov. 15 on one felony count of filing a fraudulent tax return in August 2016. Five charges were dismissed.

The restaurateur was charged last April with six felony counts for failure to pay $13,000 in sales tax from 2015 to 2017. A state investigator felt six months during that period were “substantially underreported” and charged Close and DC Restaurants LLC with a felony for each month.

Close, the owner of Acqua and MIZU restaurants in White Bear Lake, originally pleaded not guilty to the charges then changed his plea to guilty last September for one of the counts from 2016.

The judge sentenced Close to one day in jail with one day credit and three years’ probation. Close also paid a personal fine and fees amounting to $186.

Close took full responsibility for the discrepancy in an earlier interview, telling the state investigator he did not know why the amount was underreported. All the back taxes, with penalties and interest, have now been paid.

“It’s nice to have that behind us,” he said.

Close wants the community to know the outpouring of support following public reports of his financial troubles is appreciated.

“From the moment we opened our doors in 2009, our community has shown an amazing amount of support for our restaurants. We instantly fell in love with everything about White Bear Lake and moved here just months after opening. The locations and concepts that we opened in Forest Lake really struggled and put us in a very difficult financial situation for years, unfortunately putting me in a place to have to make many decisions to save our businesses. I am definitely excited to be moving forward from this with a new appreciation for restaurant accounting and financial organization. 

“We have always been so grateful for the support we have received here in White Bear Lake. Our lakefront restaurants are operating stronger than ever and we are blessed with amazing teams at both Acqua and MIZU. We are looking forward to many more years on the lake and always looking for new opportunities in the area to showcase our passion for food, drink and hospitality.”

 

Debra Neutkens

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