Six Defendants Indicted In Alleged Plot To Collect $40,000 Business Debt By Assaulting Former Restaurant Employee
CHICAGO — Six men were indicted on federal charges alleging a plot to force a former employee of a now-closed suburban restaurant to pay a business debt of approximately $40,000, federal law enforcement officials announced today. On June 1 of this year, five of the six defendants allegedly physically assaulted the victim outside a different restaurant in Aurora, where the victim was working at the time, simultaneously punching and kicking him in the head and body after he was knocked to the ground.
All six defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to collect credit by extortionate means, and five of the six were also charged with one count of extortionate collection of credit by the use of violence and threats of violence, in a two-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury yesterday.
An arrest warrant is outstanding for JINHUANG ZHENG, 31, aka “Benny,” of Indianapolis, who was an owner and employee of a restaurant supply company in Indianapolis. MINGRUI SUN, 20, of Chicago, was arrested today, and BING LIANG CHEN, 26, also known as “Michael,” and DANIEL ZHU, 19, both also of Chicago, were arrested in August. JACK WU, 24, of Chicago, voluntarily surrendered today, and SHENG QUAN DONG, 41, aka “Peter,” is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in U.S. District Court. Sun, Chen, Zhu, and Wu all remain in federal custody pending further court proceedings.
According to the indictment, before June 1, the victim was an employee of Restaurant A, which had locations in Naperville and Lombard, both of which are now closed. Restaurant A owed approximately $40,000 to Zheng’s Company A in Indianapolis. At the time of the attack, the victim worked at Restaurant B in Aurora, which had no affiliation with Restaurant A.
In May of this year, Zheng allegedly discussed the business debt with Dong and showed him paperwork evidencing the debt. In May and early June, Zheng and Dong allegedly recruited Chen, Zhu, and Sun to help collect the debt owed to Company A from the victim. On June 1, these five defendants met in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood to discuss the debt, agreed to work together to obtain payment from the victim through violence and threats of violence, and then traveled together to Aurora to confront the victim and to intimidate him into paying the debt, the indictment alleges.
During the June 1 assault, one of the defendants allegedly told the victim, in essence, that if he did not pay, he was going to die.
After the victim refused to pay the debt and was beaten, Chen allegedly recruited Wu ― agreeing to pay Wu $2,000 ― to return to the Aurora restaurant with him to again threaten the victim into paying the debt. In June and July, Chen and Wu allegedly drove to Aurora three times to confront the victim about the debt. On July 9, Chen allegedly threatened to break the windows of Restaurant B if another employee did not provide the victim’s telephone number. That same day, Chen and Wu allegedly followed the second employee to that employee’s home in an effort to learn where the victim lived.
The arrests and charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Chicago and Aurora police departments assisted in the investigation.
Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Dollear.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.