Local Restaurateur Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison

The owner of a landmark Lake Norman restaurant was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by eight months of confinement in his Mooresville home on Tuesday for attempted tax evasion.

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Peter Gjuraj, 49, owner of the Blue Parrot Grill on N.C. 150 West in Mooresville, admitted to hiding about $2.8 million in income and filing false returns. He originally faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors, in the end, requested an 18-month sentence with good behavior.

“I apologize to the court, my family and my community, Gjuraj told Judge Richard Voorhees in U.S. District Court in Statesville. “I know what I did, and I know what I did was wrong. But with the help I have gotten from my attorney and CPA, I promise this will never happen again.”

Court records show Gjuraj failed to report about $2.8 million in additional gross receipts to the IRS from 2012 through 2014. As a result, he owed an additional $320,000 in federal taxes.

His lawyer, Eben Rawls of Charlotte, told the judge a check for the full amount Gjuraj owed was being paid to the government on Monday. When he pleaded guilty in June, the restaurateur agreed to pay about $537,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Rawls said Gjuraj worked tirelessly to build a successful restaurant, from five tables when he took over the establishment in 2011 to now serving 1,000 patrons on weekdays and up to 2,000 each day on weekends. He mentioned how Gjuraj has given much time and money to help others in the community.

He said Gjuraj was never lavish with how he spent the money he owed. “Peter and his wife do not live extravagant lives,” Rawls said. “No spending on trips, boats, jewelry,” he said.

“He has cried in my office,” Rawls said. “He has wept he has let so many people down. His heart weighs heavy every single day.”