The half-owner of a recently closed restaurant in North Jersey has admitted to failing to withhold and pay over payroll taxes.

76-year-old Jorge Fernandes of West Orange was part-owner of two restaurants in Newark, Iberia Tavern and Iberia Peninsula.

On Thursday in federal court, he pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to collect payroll taxes for the tax period of 2016 through 2017.

Federal authorities say he paid a number of the employees "off the books," or "under the table," failing to collect any payroll taxes from them.

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According to officials, Fernandes’ conduct caused the government a total tax loss of $715,780 for tax years 2016 through 2017.

Recently closed

It was less than two months ago that the owners of Iberia Tavern and Restaurant took to Facebook to announce they would be closing for good in less than 24 hours.

It is with the most heavy heart that we announce the closing of Iberia Restaurant. We can not thank you enough for all the love and support you showed us during our 49 years in businesses. Our last day is Sunday June 4th. Share the word so all our friends can come to say hello and goodbye before we are gone.

Iberia in Newark NJ - Photo: Google Maps
Iberia in Newark NJ - Photo: Google Maps

Iberia Tavern had quickly became known for its Portuguese and Spanish cuisine, served in giant portions.

Facing prison time

Fernandes now faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 20th.

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