The owners of a Tennessee restaurant were charged with harboring illegal aliens and profiting off their employment by paying them under the table in a federal indictment unsealed this week.
According to the indictment, the owners of New China Buffet and Grill in Clarksville, Tennessee were charged last month with harboring illegal aliens from China and Guatemala, money laundering, income tax fraud, and employment tax fraud. Quanwei Shi, 29, was arrested at his home in Clarksville on March 27 while Chongqiang Chen, also 29, surrendered to U.S. Marshals in New York on Thursday.
In a statement announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee said Shi and Chen conspired to harbor illegal aliens and profited off their employment at the New China Buffet.
“The undocumented workers were not required to complete any forms related to immigration status and were paid in cash, outside the regular payroll system,” according to the indictment.
The indictment further reveals that Shi and Chen invited the undocumented workers to live with them, transported them to and from the restaurant daily, and assigned them to work in the kitchen so “they would not be able to interact with the patrons of the restaurant.”
Additionally, Shi and Chen allegedly evaded payroll taxes by failing to withhold more than $175,000 in income and FICA taxes from the illegal immigrants’ payments.
“These income and FICA taxes were not paid over to the IRS as required, but instead were used for commercial advantage and private financial gain,” Cochran said in a press release.
The two defendants also signed and submitted false forms with the IRS that under-reported the restaurant’s gross receipts for the 2017 and 2018 tax years.
If convicted, Shi and Chen face up to 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, and will be required to forfeit property, vehicles, and bank accounts that were used in furtherance of the crime.
– – –