Two Local Restaurateurs Sentenced For Hiring, Harboring Undocumented Workers
Two Twin Cities restaurateurs have been sentenced for knowingly employing and harboring at least 17 undocumented immigrants to work long and numerous days at their food service establishments.
Ming Guo, 46, the owner of two Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet restaurants with locations in Spring Lake Park and West St. Paul, and the manager of both restaurants, Bijian Weng, 28, were originally charged on January 26 with one count each of knowingly hiring ten or more unlawful aliens. Both men pled guilty on March 20 and were sentenced on August 5 in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul.
Weng will serve six months in prison with 100 hours community service and Guo will serve five months in prison with 50 hours of community service. Both men were also given more than $300,000 in criminal forfeiture and fines to be paid mutually.
“These defendants created a successful restaurant business on the backs of undocumented workers,” assistant U.S. attorney Julie E. Allyn said in a statement. “They forced the victims to work 12-hour shifts, six days per week, by housing them and isolating them without the means and access to build a life. Guo and Weng did not simply hire illegal aliens — they took sustained steps to harbor and transport these workers in violation of U.S. law.”
Court document filings reveal that Guo and Weng were aware that the 17 illegal employees were not authorized to work in the United States. Furthermore, the two restaurateurs did not have any of the employees fill out paperwork, including I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms. All of the employees were paid in cash off the books and were transported to and from work each day by Guo and Weng.
According to William Lowder, acting special agent in charge of the case, the act of hiring illegal immigrants “is not a victimless crime.” It results in an unfair advantage for a business, can force competitors out of business, and avoids potential tax revenue for the community.