FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
JULY 30, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OWNERS OF EL POLLO RICO RESTAURANT INDICTED IN SCHEME TO HARBOR AND EMPLOY ILLEGAL ALIENS
Indictment Seeks Forfeiture of $7.8 Million in Cash, Properties, Vehicles and Other Assets
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury indicted Francisco Carlos Solano, age 55; his wife Ines Solano, age 59, both of Germantown, Maryland; Francisco’s sister Consuelo Solano, age 69, of Arlington, Virginia; and brother Juan Faustino Solano, age 57, of Kensington, Maryland today on charges of conspiracy to commit alien harboring, employing unauthorized aliens and inducing aliens to reside in the United States, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering, and structuring deposits to avoid currency reporting requirements, in connection with the operation of the El Pollo Rico restaurant in Wheaton, Maryland, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. The indictment follows the filing on July 9, 2007 of a criminal complaint.
“These employers are alleged to have lined their pockets with millions of dollars and gained an unfair advantage over their competitors by systematically exploiting illegal aliens and paying them under the table," said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
"This case goes beyond immigration violations," said James A. Dinkins, ICE Special Agent In Charge, Baltimore. "The alleged money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations represent a serious attempt to undermine and exploit the U.S. financial system, whose integrity is vital to all of us."
Special Agent in Charge, Francis L. Turner, IRS - Criminal Investigation stated, "Money laundering is a global threat, fuel for criminals to conduct their criminal affairs and is used to manipulate and erode our financial systems."
According to the ten-count indictment, Francisco and Juan Solano are alleged to have employed numerous illegal aliens and undocumented workers at the restaurant from January 1999 to July 2007, paying them in cash. The defendants did not pay employee benefits or make required tax payments. Employees were housed in residences they owned in Wheaton, Kensington, Germantown and Silver Spring, Maryland.
The indictment further alleges that from January 2002 to July 2007, Francisco, Consuelo and Juan Solano conspired to conceal the proceeds from the illegal employment of aliens by depositing millions of dollars from the operation of the restaurant into various bank accounts they controlled. They withdrew money from the accounts for their personal use, such as buying personal and retirement investments, life insurance, vehicles, an 1895 “P” collectible coin and a condominium. Francisco and Ines are alleged to have structured deposits into bank accounts in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid triggering the bank’s reporting requirements.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $7.8 million allegedly derived from the illegal activities, including 13 bank and investor accounts, a life insurance policy, eight properties located in Wheaton, Kensington, Germantown and Silver Spring, Maryland, three vehicles, the collectible coin and jewelry.
Francisco and Juan face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the harboring conspiracy; and 6 months in prison for each unauthorized alien. Francisco, Consuelo and Juan face 10 years for the money laundering conspiracy and 20 years for money laundering; and Francisco and Ines Solano face 10 years in prison on each of two counts for structuring deposits to avoid currency reporting requirements.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney David I. Salem and Stacy Belf, who are prosecuting the case.