The owner of a Novi, Michigan, restaurant and his wife were indicted on charges of harboring undocumented immigrants forthe purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain and conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Marlon Miller, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Chief David Molloy, Novi Police Department.
Roger Tam, 55, and his wife, Ada Lei, 48, of Novi were charged in an indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury in Detroit.
The indictment is the latest development in an ongoing probe by the Novi Police Department and HSI with assistance from ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol and the Oakland County Sherriff’s Office.
An investigation was launched after HSI special agents and officers with the Novi Police executed federal and state search warrants at the Novi residence, where five Mexican nationals died as a result of a Jan. 31 fire. Department of Homeland Security databases revealed that all five men were illegally present in the United States and had entered in the lastsix months.
As alleged in court records, Tam hired five Mexican nationals to work at Kim’s Garden in Novi. The Mexican nationals were provided housing in the Novi home owned by Tam and Lei, and were transported to and from the restaurant, as a condition of their employment. Tam told a Novi detective at the scene of the fire that the deceased individuals were employees at Kim’s Garden whom he paid in cash and allowed to reside in the home’s basement, where smoke detectors had been disabled.
If found guilty, Tam and Lei face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.