News and Press Releases

Three Chinese Nationals Arrested in Alien Harboring and Unlawful Employment Conspiracy

Oct. 25, 2012

HOUSTON – Song Yu, 32, Hue Chen, 36, and Cheng Jie Chen, 40, all from the Katy area, have been taken into custody following the return of an indictment alleging a conspiracy to harbor and induce illegal aliens to reside in the U.S and unlawful employment, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. All are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson tomorrow morning.

During the course of the conspiracy, the indictment indicates Cheng Jie Chen, Hui Chen and Yu hired unauthorized aliens from Guatemala to work at the Bamboo Village aka New Bamboo Village restaurant, some of whom were allegedly directed to obtain fraudulent work authorization documents. These people never presented identification documents and never completed I-9 forms, as required by law, according to the indictment. The indictment further alleges illegal aliens and other workers were provided housing and were transported to and from the restaurant.

Bamboo Village restaurant is a Chinese restaurant located on the 5100 block of Avenue H in Rosenberg. Cheng Jie Chen was its original director and president. On April 5, 2010, the restaurant changed the corporation name to New Bamboo Village Inc., at which time Yu, the nephew of Cheng Jie Chen, was named as the director and president. 

Federal law requires employers to hire only United States citizens and aliens who are authorized to work in the United States. Further, employers must verify employment eligibility using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). The employer is required to examine, at the time of hire, the documentation provided by the individual that establishes his identity and employment eligibility to ensure the documents presented appear to be genuine and relate to the individual. The employer must retain the I-9 forms for three years after the date of the hire or one year after the date the individual’s employment is terminated, whichever is later.

On March 24, 2009, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents encountered and arrested unauthorized aliens at a residence on the 4900 block of Timber Lane in Rosenberg. These individuals, who did not have the proper I-9 documentation, allegedly worked at Bamboo Village and resided at the Timber Lane location. According to the indictment, they would be transported daily to the restaurant for work.

HSI issued a warning notice to the restaurant on or about July 1, 2010, advising then owner Chen Jie Chen of the penalties associated with knowingly hiring and employing unauthorized aliens and the lack of the I-9 forms.

On Aug. 22, 2012, HSI personnel again encountered more unauthorized aliens who were arrested at the same Timber Lane residence. At the time, all were allegedly being housed by the defendants at this location while working at New Bamboo Village.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, all face up to 10 years in prison as well as a maximum $250,000 fine. Unlawful employment of illegal aliens carries an additional six-month prison term and a $3,000 fine.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

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