U.S. Supreme Court

Restaurateurs Who Pleaded Guilty in Tax Case Can Be Deported, Supreme Court Rules

A Japanese couple who ran a restaurant in California can be deported because of guilty pleas in a tax case involving underreported corporate income, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

Akio Kawashima and his wife, Fusako Kawashima, were ordered deported after Akio pleaded guilty to making a false tax return and Fusako pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting preparation of the return. The loss to the government exceeded $10,000.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion (PDF). He said the crimes qualified as an aggravated felony under a provision of the deportation law triggering removal for crimes involving fraud or deceit and a loss to the victim exceeding $10,000.

The dissenters are Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan. They argued the majority’s interpretation “sweeps a wide variety of federal, state, and local tax offenses—including misdemeanors—into the ‘aggravated felony’ category.”

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