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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chinese Nationals Ordered To Prison In Alien Harboring And Unlawful Employment Conspiracy

HOUSTON – Song Yu, 32, and Cheng Jie Chen, 40, both from the Katy area, have been sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy to harbor and induce illegal aliens to reside in the U.S., United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Yu and Chen both previously pleaded guilty as did a third defendant - Hue Chen, 36.

U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced both Yu and Cheng Chen to 15 months to be followed by one year of supervised release. Chen was also assessed a $10,000 fine. Hue Chen was previously sentenced to six months in prison.

During the course of the conspiracy, the three hired unauthorized aliens from Guatemala to work at the Bamboo Village aka New Bamboo Village restaurant, some of whom were allegedly directed to obtain fraudulent work authorization documents. These people never presented identification documents and never completed I-9 forms, as required by law. Court records indicated the illegal aliens and other workers were provided housing and were transported to and from the restaurant.

Bamboo Village restaurant is a Chinese restaurant located on the 5100 block of Avenue H in Rosenberg. Cheng Jie Chen was its original director and president. On April 5, 2010, the restaurant changed the corporation name to New Bamboo Village Inc., at which time Yu, the nephew of Cheng Jie Chen, was named as the director and president.

Federal law requires employers to hire only United States citizens and aliens who are authorized to work in the United States. Further, employers must verify employment eligibility using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). The employer is required to examine, at the time of hire, the documentation provided by the individual that establishes his identity and employment eligibility to ensure the documents presented appear to be genuine and relate to the individual. The employer must retain the I-9 forms for three years after the date of the hire or one year after the date the individual’s employment is terminated, whichever is later.

On March 24, 2009, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents encountered and arrested unauthorized aliens at a residence on the 4900 block of Timber Lane in Rosenberg. These individuals, who did not have the proper I-9 documentation, allegedly worked at Bamboo Village and resided at the Timber Lane location. According to the indictment, they would be transported daily to the restaurant for work.

HSI issued a warning notice to the restaurant on or about July 1, 2010, advising then owner Chen Jie Chen of the penalties associated with knowingly hiring and employing unauthorized aliens and the lack of the I-9 forms.
On Aug. 22, 2012, HSI personnel again encountered more unauthorized aliens who were arrested at the same Timber Lane residence. At the time, all were allegedly being housed by the defendants at this location while working at New Bamboo Village.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015