Williamstown Dry Cleaner Gets A Year In Prison For Hiring Illegal Immigrants, Failing To Collect Payroll Taxes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey
CAMDEN, N.J. - A Williamstown, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 12 months in prison for hiring illegal immigrants to work in his dry cleaning business and failing to collect and pay over payroll taxes on behalf of those employees, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Bill Li, 50, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to an information charging him with one count of failure to collect, account for, and pay over payroll taxes and one count of harboring illegal aliens. Judge Kugler imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Li owned Minuteman Cleaners located on North Black Horse Pike in Williamstown. At the time, Li and Kathy Lei, 36, also of Williamstown, owned a house on South Main Street in Williamstown. Lei and Phillip Hui, 39, of Washington Township, New Jersey, own New Eastern Cleaners in Voorhees Township, New Jersey.
Li was responsible for hiring employees, handling the books and supervising and paying the employees at Minuteman Cleaners. At various times in 2012 and 2013, Li, Lei and Hui hired individuals – generally from Mexico or Guatemala – that were in the United States illegally. The illegal immigrant employees were required to work six days a week, approximately 10 hours a day and paid between $400 and $500 dollars per week. Li paid their wages in cash.
While working at Minuteman Cleaners, Li allowed the illegal immigrant employees to stay at the South Main Street house. Li admitted that the rent was part of their employment compensation. Li or others working for Li would transport the illegal immigrant employees between the South Main Street house and Minuteman Cleaners.
Li admitted that prior 2012, he was aware that he was required to verify that all his employees were eligible to work in the United States. Li also admitted that between Jan. 1, 2012 and Oct. 29, 2013, he knowingly hired individuals that were in the United States illegally and did not report their wages to IRS for his own financial gain.
Li further admitted that as the owner or someone with authority over the employer financial affairs, he was responsible for collecting, accounting for and paying over to the IRS the employment taxes for his businesses’ employees. For tax quarters in 2012 and 2013, Li failed to report the wages and pay over employment taxes for at least eight illegal immigrant employees of Minuteman Cleaners. By filing the false quarterly payroll tax forms, Li failed to pay over to the IRS employment taxes of at least $79,000.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Li to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $79,000.
Hui and Lui previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct and impede the IRS relating to the failure to collect, account for and pay payroll taxes and one count of harboring illegal aliens. Hui was sentenced Sept. 8, 2016 to 15 months in prison. Lei was sentenced on Feb. 17, 2017 to three years of probation.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael, and special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), under Newark Field Office Director John Tsoukaris, for its assistance in this investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney=s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: Robert Agre, Esq., Haddonfield, New Jersey
Updated May 12, 2017
Press Release Number: 16-149