HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced today that charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg against eight restaurant owners and managers in the State College, Pennsylvania, area, accusing them of conspiring to transport, harbor and conceal illegal aliens to work in their restaurants. Jing Mei Jiang, identified as the leader of the conspiracy, was also charged with defrauding the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by underreporting the actual number of employees in audit and tax documents and by creating falsified financial records on his Employer’s Quarterly Report of Wages Paid to each employee.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, the following individuals were charged in eight separate Criminal Informations filed today:
- Jing Mei Jiang, age 51, Boalsburg, PA
- Yu Mei Chen, age 50, Boalsburg, PA
- Xin Xing Jiang, age 27, Boalsburg, PA
- Yan Jin Jiang, age 30, Boalsburg, PA
- Xue Jiang, age 36, State College, PA
- Jian Bin Chen, age 39, State College, PA
- Yong Cheng Chen, age 38, State College, PA
- Hua Zhen Dong, age 37, State College, PA
The Criminal Informations charge that Jing Mei Jiang and his co-conspirators, owners and/or managers of restaurants in the State College area, allegedly engaged in recruiting, placing, harboring, concealing and transporting unauthorized aliens to work in the restaurants. Jiang and his co-conspirators transported the unauthorized aliens by commercial buses, vans and other vehicles to and from restaurants in the State College area, where they would work and be housed during their employment.
The workforce consisted of Hispanic and Chinese aliens from Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand and China, many of whom were illegally in the United States. The workforce was allegedly sought and employed by the defendants for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Unauthorized alien workers were hired routinely to staff restaurant kitchen operations, thereby cutting costs and maximizing profits. Among other things, the conspirators allegedly:
- Paid the unauthorized aliens in cash, at a rate well below the minimum wage;
- Did not withhold state and/or federal taxes from the wages paid to unauthorized aliens;
- Did not require the unauthorized aliens to present documents establishing identity and/or employment eligibility as required by law;
- Provided housing and transportation to the restaurants to their unauthorized alien workers.
- Recruited unauthorized alien workers using employment agencies located in New York City and would have the unauthorized alien workers transported to the State College area by commercial buses, vans and other vehicles;
- Shared housing, transportation and services of some of the workers among themselves to maximize profits and to facilitate their criminal conspiracy; and
- Filed and caused to be filed fraudulent documents relating to unemployment compensation for undocumented workers.
Jiang is charged individually with allegedly handling the finances of all the restaurants. The workers were compensated in cash and their earnings were not reported to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the Employer’s Quarterly Report of Wages Paid to Each Employee.
The payroll services of a New York accounting firm were allegedly used for the fraudulent production of a fictitious monthly payroll check for each employee and quarterly report of wages paid to each employee forwarded by mail or electronically filed. The actual number of employees working for the restaurants was knowingly under reported, thereby knowingly causing the accounting firm to transmit false and incomplete information by mail and/or by interstate wire.
The government is also seeking the forfeiture of the following assets, consisting of property or cash allegedly directly tied to the criminal activity:
- 210 Limerock Terrace, State College, PA
- 458 East College Avenue, Unit 211, State College, PA
- 458 East College Avenue, Unit 406, State College, PA
- 691 Westerly Parkway, State College, PA
- $21,890 in cash seized from the China Dragon Restaurant, State College, PA
- $43,108 in cash seized from 210 Limerock Terrace, State College, PA
The government also filed plea agreements with each of the eight defendants which are subject to the approval of the court.
The case is part of a continuing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, and the U.S. Department of Labor, assisted by the State College Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William A. Behe and Gordon Zubrod, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert LaBar of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office are assigned to prosecute the case.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for Jing Mei Jiang is 10 years of imprisonment on harboring and concealment of illegal immigrants and 20 years imprisonment for wire fraud, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the remaining defendants is 5 years imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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