Skip to main content
Press Release

Restaurant and Owner Guilty of Harboring and Employing Illegal Aliens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that THAI THAI, LLC. d/b/a Sticky Rice Thai Cuisine and SOMPHON CHIWABANDIT, age 47, a native of Thailand, entered guilty pleas yesterday to harboring and unlawfully employing illegal aliens, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324a(a)(1)(A).

According to court records, Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations conducted surveillance on the restaurant as well as on a home owned, and an apartment rented by CHIWABANDIT. The defendant admitted in court that he provided housing, transportation, and employment to two illegal aliens. The defendant also acknowledged that he had been in the United States illegally for the past seven years, as he had overstayed a business visitor visa.

CHIWABANDIT also admitted to failing to list the illegal aliens on a Form I-9. By law, employers are required to maintain Form I-9’s for all employees, as it is a way to verify employment eligibility for a business’s employees.

THAI THAI, LLC. d/b/a Sticky Rice Thai Cuisine, which pleaded guilty to a felony charge of harboring illegal aliens, faces up to 5 years of probation, a fine of $500,000, and a $400 special assessment fee. CHIWABANDIT, the restaurant owner, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of hiring and employing illegal aliens, and faces up to 6 months of imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,000, and a special assessment fee of $10.

United States District Court Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle set sentencing for April 17, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of Homeland Security Investigations, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Covington Police Department in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri is in charge of the prosecution.


                                                                *   *   *


Updated March 14, 2019

Labor & Employment