GRAND RAPIDS, MI – P. Razo Fierro, 66, the former owner of Pablo’s
Tacos, a popular Mexican restaurant in Muskegon, Michigan was sentenced
to federal prison Wednesday for Social Security fraud.
On Dec. 09, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced Fierro to
15 months in prison, followed by 12 months of supervised release.
On Wednesday, Bell ordered Fierro to pay $232,531.25 in restitution, however,
the judge waived the interest due to Fierro’s inability to pay,
according to court documents.
Between 1999 and 2011, Fierro illegally collected nearly a quarter-million
Social Security Disability benefits for a back injury he sustained while working at Eagle Ottawa
Leather Co. in 1992.
In the period following 1999, Fierro, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was actually
working, starting with El Camino Tacos, and in 2004, at his own restaurant,
Pablo’s Tacos in Roosevelt Park, according to the government sentencing
In 2008, the
Muskegon Chronicle ran an article and online video about how well the restaurant was doing,
where Fierro talked about working long hours at his restaurant since opening.
That’s when the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector
General was alerted, and they launched an investigation into Fierro, finding
that he had been fraudulently receiving disability payments for years.
In January 2011 federal agents interviewed Fierro. He admitted to the crimes
and hired an attorney. After meeting with agents and the prosecutor again
in March of that year, he paid $2,000 in restitution.
Shortly thereafter, Fierro “panicked,” according to his attorney,
and fled to Mexico with his wife. In 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office
in Grand Rapids issued a sealed indictment, which officially charged Fierro
In September 2014, the couple came back to the United States unaware of
the warrant for Fierro’s arrest. The couple reunited with their
family in Muskegon County and on June 30, U.S. marshals arrested him in
Fierro’s lawyer argued that his client’s fraud was due to an
addiction to narcotic painkillers, which were obtained by Fierro following
his 1992 back injury.
Fierro’s sentencing memo claimed that he was still in severe pain,
but was able to partially mask it with excessive painkiller use, allowing
him to work despite his disability. Fierro allegedly believed that he
needed to stay on disability in order to maintain his prescription drug
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