City Desk

Murky Coffee Owner Nicholas Cho Formally Booked On Tax Charges

Former Murky Coffee Owner Nicholas Cho has been arrested on tax fraud charges, according to the Voice of the Hill. Arrested may be too strong a word. He was arraigned last week; a judge then ordered him to get formally booked by D.C. Police on the charges stemming from his massive tax fraud case filed in D.C. Superior Court this past July. He had been charged with 82 counts of tax fraud. By the time he was charged, his tax problems had become well known.

Judging from a review of the court record, Cho's real big problem: he can't  find a defense attorney. Cho wrote to the court on September 22 pleading for more time to get his legal team in place.

Cho wrote:

"I am respectfully requesting a continuance for my court date scheduled for 10:00 AM on September 25, 2009 of 2-4 weeks in order to retain an attorney for my case. I have yet been unable to secure the funds to successfully do so, and should be able to within 2-4 weeks."

Cho is still pro se. At his arraignment, court records show, he appeared without an attorney and entered a not-guilty plea.

On October 23, Judge A. Franklin Burgess ordered that Cho "report directly to the 1st District Police Station" on October 27 at 9 a.m. "for the purpose of booking, fingerprinting, photographing and processing charges."

4:58 p.m Update:

"I knew he had some tax problems, which were a concern for me, but I assumed that he was working them out," says Max Brown, former general counsel to the District's Chief Financial Officer and current co-owner of Chinatown Coffee Co., where Cho is serving an interim general manager.

Brown says that, from the beginning, Cho was a consultant at his gourmet coffee shop, not an employee or partner. Cho's purpose at Chinatown Coffee, Brown adds, was to help set up the shop and then groom a full-time general manager to take over operations. In fact, the new GM, Travis Edwards, will assume his new post on Sunday, Nov. 1, Brown says.

"As a reputable and credible business owner, I view this as an extremely serious matter, and it is my hope that due process takes its course, however it may turn out," Brown says.

And will Cho continue at Chinatown Coffee in any capacity in the future? "I have to look at the facts," Brown says. "We are going to do our due diligence."

Cho could not be reached for comment. His cellphone's voicemail message stated that he was not accepting calls at this time.

Cho's next hearing before Judge Burgess is scheduled for Dec. 10. At which time, a trial date will be set if one has not been set already.

*additional reporting by Tim Carman.

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  • The Nose
  • jf1

    And another hardworking individual goes down to the forces of corruption.

  • jf1

    I mean, really, it seems clear that a government that can't even balance its own books shouldn't be able to arrest and incarcerate someone for not paying their taxes. Just think about it. Sure, you can say that the missing tax revenue would help to balance the books, but who here really thinks that the government would ever limit itself to spending only its tax income?

  • Mike Licht

    Big deal. Just because the guy paid his taxes in $5 hot chocolate coupons. In the summer.

  • Anon

    He didn't pay some of his employees either. Feel sorry for him all you want, but he took advantage of more than the government.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    This guy is a serial criminal, ripping off the People time after time. Not paying employees, not paying taxes, not paying unemployment insurance, workers' comp, etc. - he needs some time in a re-education camp.

    Maybe he'll go rogue, & instead of having a store front, will be in a van, cruising around town, slingin' coffee like it was crack cocaine...

    Also, he's like DC's "Soup Nazi", only this guy slings coffee. "You want more milk in that? How's about a punch the dick, moron!"

    Thus, he's entertaining, as many criminals are, but still needs a stretch in a re-education camp. Maybe two semesters would be sufficient.

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  • ks1

    Did Marion Barry get arrested for his tax charges? I can't remember. In any case, Marion could clearly give Nicholas some good advice on how to get off as easy as possible. This is one area where Marion has some strong skills.

  • onemoremile

    Are you kidding me Max Brown? You're the former general counsel to the freakin' District's CFO and you're claiming you had no idea of the extent of Cho's tax evasion? Any "cup of joe" that reads the paper knows this so how in the world does someone who works for the CFO not know this??

    Really, Max Brown? Really?

  • dcj

    Nich Cho is a real scumbag. He is definitely a nut case. He takes advantage of employees -- works them very hard and then refuses to pay them. He took advantage of a young college student, who spent her free hours working for him only to be refused her pay. He handed out a paycheck, which was not honored by the bank because there was no signature. He needs to do time in prison and be made to pay every person he owes a paycheck. He is a criminal

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  • H St local

    Somebody please send this story and the comments over to the WaPo, which is always running stories about how wonderful Nick Cho and his "fair trade" coffee, etc. are.
    Gimme a break.
    No wonder DC is the hemisphere's northern-most Banana Republic.
    Thanks to the City Paper, Voice of the Hill, and all the local alt media!

  • joe schmoe

    Many a Murky Coffee Arlington employees are still waiting for a final paycheck from him. he paid the ones that were coming to his new venture and stiffed the others.

    He's a Jackass. I'm a former customer who misses the Coffee but will not support him or Chinatown Coffee because of their association with him.

  • Mark W

    Max Brown sounds like a typical lawyer. How in the world did he not know that Cho had tax problems when he brought him in as a consultant? A quick Google search on the guy would've given him pages of background information. Nothing like doing your due diligence AFTER the fact!

    Cho has a pattern of putting his ego and need to be admired ahead of common sense. He essentially stole money from his customers by not passing the sales tax that THEY paid over to the DC gov't.

  • kyle

    wouldnt it be nice if it were that easy. nick did come across as seeming arrogant. but that could be confused with just being honest in what he was thinking and saying it. i'm glad i met him or i'd have been selling green mountain coffee across the street from their largest account, mcdonalds. unless youre intimately involved with the overhead of running a coffee shop, (for the record, it's pretty expesive, particularly the payroll), it's very tough to give to the government what you dont make. what many people assume is that this guy had a business, it was a very boss coffee shop(regardless of how you feel about the owner)he must be making lots of money! not necessarily!!! if at the end of the month, his register rang less than the overhead, then what is he going to pay taxes with?....WHAT??? i'm asking because i've been there. dont assume you know whats going on. if you were working your butt off with a bunch of people standing around you wagging their tongues and verbally assuming things they no nothing of, you might be acting like an ass too!

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