Restaurateur Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

jay-wennington-N_Y88TWmGwA-unsplash-copy-300x200Attila Gyulai, the owner of a fine dining establishment in the West Loop, has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Gyulai had returned to Chicago to face four counts of fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 25th of 2020. He and his wife owned and operated Embreya restaurant, a high-end Asian establishment. The restaurant opened in 2012 and received excellent reviews, but shut down only four years later. 

Examining the Plea Agreement

Gyulai’s plea agreement is interesting. Essentially, Gyulai admitted guilt to one allegation of wire fraud but also stated that he did not agree with all the details of the other allegations. The plea agreement essentially states that between 2014 and 2016, Gyulai defrauded minor shareholders in his restaurant and lied about how money generated by the restaurant was used. As part of the scheme, there was a nearly $15,000 money transfer out of the restaurant’s coffers.

Examining the Charges

Prosecutors say that Gyulai took money from investors under the auspices of using that money toward his restaurant and on the contingency that they would reap dividends from their investment. What Gyulai did instead was pay for fancy vacations and expensive clothes while he left his investors waiting for their money. This, of course, is illegal.

When investors hand money over to a business owner as an investment, they expect that their money will be repaid with interest. Instead, Gyulai lied to his investors about the amount of profit he was making and then used their money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Of course, Gyulai could claim that he had every intention of repaying his investors, but part of the problem was that when the indictments came down, Gyulai was out of the country. According Gyulai, he was visiting sick relatives in Spain and Latin America. No doubt, had his case gone to trial Gyulai would have claimed that he left the country as soon as he found out about his sick relatives and while he did use some of the restaurant’s money to pay for those vacations, there was never anything in the investment contract that dictated when that money had to be repaid.

Based on that potential defense, Gyulai was able to plead guilty to one of the charges while successfully skirting the other three. He was also allowed to enter a plea that emphasized that he did not agree (necessarily) with the allegations but was pleading guilty to avoid a trial.

However, Gyulai was confronted by the executive chef of his establishment and proceeded to fire him, according to separate civil suit. The chef attempted to recover $90,000 in unpaid wages and, during discovery, realized that Gyulai had been using investment funds for personal expenditures.

Talk to a Chicago White Collar Crime Attorney

Whether you are facing state or federal charges, David Freidberg, Attorney at Law, has the expertise to resolve your case as painlessly as possible. Give us a call at (312) 560-7100 and we will begin preparing your defense immediately.