Wife of restaurant owner gets three years probation
County resident sentenced for role in money laundering at El Pollo Rico
A Germantown woman charged with assisting the owners of a Wheaton chicken restaurant with laundering millions of dollars was sentenced to three years probation Monday at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt for her role in the crime.
Ines-Hoyos Solano, 60, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit money laundering from El Pollo Rico, the Peruvian chicken restaurant on Ennalls Avenue owned by her husband, Francisco Solano, 56, of Germantown.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus said Ines Solano played an insignificant role in a significant crime.
Ines Solano helped out at El Pollo Rico on the weekends. In July 2007, law enforcement officials found $1.5 million in cash stashed in her bedroom.
Prosecutors said she made frequent deposits to private accounts from the more than $7 million that was deposited in an El Pollo Rico business account from January 2002 to July 2007.
Money was used to buy property, jewelry and vehicles while the illegal immigrants employed at the restaurant were paid less than the minimum wage and were housed at some of the defendants' properties in Maryland and Virginia.
Although prosecutors said at the sentencing Monday that Ines Solano benefited from the money laundered by wearing expensive jewelry and driving expensive cars, Titus said she already had a significant punishment by having to forfeit millions of dollars worth of her property.
In addition to her probation, he sentenced her to four months of home confinement.
Ines Solano is the third of four defendants in the case to be prosecuted.
Her husband, Francisco Solano, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and structuring bank transactions to evade reporting. His sentencing was moved from Monday to Dec. 17. Plea agreements indicate he will receive an "enhanced sentence" because of his leadership role in managing and organizing the criminal activity.
His brother, 58-year-old Juan Faustino Solano, of Kensington, was sentenced Oct. 1 to 15 months in prison for his part in knowingly hiring and paying illegal immigrants under the table to work at El Pollo Rico. He pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The men's sister, 69-year-old Consuelo Solano, of Arlington, Va., was sentenced Sept. 24 to two months in jail for her role as a bookkeeper in transferring the restaurant's funds to personal bank accounts. She pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit money laundering.