Oshima Sushi in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Oshima Sushi in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Everett, Lynnwood sushi restaurant owner gets prison for tax evasion

Si Yong Kim was convicted in federal court for underreporting earnings by $1.7 million. He must spend 10 months behind bars.

LYNNWOOD — A Snohomish County sushi restaurant owner who failed to report $1.7 million in income was sentenced this week to 10 months in federal prison.

Using a “double set of books,” Si Yong Kim provided the Internal Revenue Service false earnings from Oshima Sushi in Lynnwood and Everett, resulting in $511,750 in lost taxes, according to charges filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

At his sentencing, Kim’s defense attorney Harold Malkin reportedly said his client had sold the popular sushi business in Everett. Malkin did not immediately return a Daily Herald reporter’s phone call to confirm Thursday afternoon.

In October, Kim entered a plea agreement for one count of federal tax evasion. The standard sentence for the crime was 12 to 18 months, court documents say.

“My husband of 12 years has always been loyal, hardworking, and kind,” his wife Karen Kim wrote in a letter to the court. “Not only he never disappointed me, but he did his best to be the family’s pillar of strength and love.”

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart handed down a sentence outside of the guideline, along with a $10,000 fine.

“Our tax system operates on an honor system where we expect our taxpayers to pay their fair share,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman said in a press release this week. “In this case, Mr. Kim didn’t cheat to keep his restaurants afloat, rather he used the money that should have gone to taxes for expensive watches, designer shoes and accessories, and jewelry.”

Kim had no prior criminal history.

Born in South Korea, Kim and his family immigrated to California when he was 6 years old, court documents say. He worked as a busser at a Japanese restaurant in his mid-20s. Eventually he was promoted to sushi chef.

In July 2012, Kim opened Oshima Sushi inside H Mart food court at 3301 184th St. SW. A second location opened a year later at 11108 Evergreen Way.

Customers on Yelp list Oshima as their “go-to” place for sushi in Everett, praising the restaurant’s three special rolls for $30 deal.

Over the past decade, Kim held an active role in the day-to-day operations and bookkeeping, according to the charges. Both of his establishments were listed under “Si Joy Inc” in federal court documents.

At both restaurants, Kim kept one set of books in which he accurately reported daily expenses, cash receipts, credit card receipts and tips. The restaurant owner would then write a “CPA number” next to the accurate figures, omitting all cash receipts and understating credit card receipts by thousands of dollars, the charges say.

He deposited earnings into three personal accounts, and the rest went into a safe deposit box, prosecutors alleged. The money was partly used to finance properties in Georgia and Mukilteo.

Between 2016 and 2020, Kim gave his tax preparer false earnings each month to provide to the IRS.

The court recommended Kim serve his time at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, according to court documents.

An employee at the Everett location, reached by phone Wednesday, could not confirm if the restaurant had new ownership. An employee in Lynnwood said there was no new ownership.

This week, both establishments were open.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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