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Press Release

Restaurant and Owner Sentenced for 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, were sentenced today after previously pleading guilty 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).

United States District Court Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle sentenced THAI THAI, LLC. d/b/a Sticky Rice Thai Cuisine to a 1 year term of probation, a $400 special assessment fee and also ordered the forfeiture of $24,640. CHIWABANDIT was sentenced to time served (4 months) and a $100 special assessment fee. CHIWABANDIT will be surrendered to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal proceedings.

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, by overstaying a business visitor visa.

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

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.


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Updated April 17, 2019