Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty to Harboring Illegal Aliens

June 11, 2010

Baltimore, Maryland - Yen Wan Cheng, age 54, of Columbia, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to harboring illegal aliens in her Hanover, Maryland restaurant, the Red Parrot Asian Bistro.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Employers in all industries and locations must comply with U.S. employment laws if we are to have an effective immigration enforcement strategy in this country,” said William Winter, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Baltimore. “ICE is creating a culture of compliance in the workplace by holding employers accountable and levying criminal charges against those who knowingly violate employment laws.”

According to Cheng’s plea agreement, from February 2009 through February 2010, Cheng owned and operated the Red Parrot Asian Bistro in the Arundel Mills Preserve in Hanover, Maryland, employing a staff of cooks, waiters and other staff that included as many as 12 people. At least five of this group of employees were aliens who were not permitted to remain and work in the United States. Cheng admits that she failed to require proper identification and proof of eligibility for employment from many of these employees, nor did she require them to complete tax withholding forms. Cheng admits that she failed to even inquire of the illegal aliens if they were authorized residents and permitted to be employed.

According to the plea’s statement of facts, on February 4, 2010, a search of the Red Parrot revealed that several of the 14 employees at the restaurant were illegal/undocumented workers. All stated that Cheng hired them without requesting any proof of their legal status or eligibility to work in the United States. The illegal workers were paid between $1,400 to $2,800 per month by cash or check, with no taxes withheld or filed on their behalf. Several of the illegal workers resided in a house owned by Cheng in Columbia, Maryland, and were driven to work in a van also owned by Cheng.

Cheng faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for August 20, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Winter thanked Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr., Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon and their officers, for their assistance in the investigation.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who is prosecuting the case.


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