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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Kansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Restaurant Owner Pleads GuiltyTo Employing Alien Illegally In U.S.

WICHITA, KAN. – A Wichita restaurant owner and his wife pleaded guilty Wednesday to harboring a Chinese girl who worked at their restaurant, United States Attorney Barry Grissom said.

The owner, Yong “Tony” Lin, 33, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to harboring an alien unlawfully in the United States and his wife, Zhuo Mei “Mandy” Weng, 29, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to hiding the crime. Both charges are federal felonies.

The pleas were entered Wednesday afternoon before U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten, who set both defendants for sentencing on May 7. As part of their guilty pleas, the couple agreed to forfeit about $8,000 in cash seized by Homeland Security agents investigating the case. The money will go to employees who are owed back wages.

In September 2013, the Exploited and Missing Child Unit (EMCU) received a report that a minor teenager from China was being housed with other restaurant workers at a west Wichita apartment complex and that she also was employed at the World Buffet Grill, 2243 N. Ridge Road. With the assistance of the Wichita Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations, EMCU confirmed the reports and was able to place the minor elsewhere.

“More cases like this are coming to light,” Grissom said, where employers seek to exploit workers even if they are minors not authorized to work in the U.S. “Employers who hire persons they know or should know are not authorized to work or who are using false documents should expect to face criminal prosecution.”

An indictment was filed in the case Sept. 11 alleging that Lin and Weng harbored and employed at least three restaurant employees they knew were unlawfully in the United States. They often paid the employees in cash, failed to follow wage and hour guidelines, and failed to maintain I-9 employment eligibility verification forms, according to the indictment.

Grissom commended the EMCU, the Wichita Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.