Chinese restaurant owner sentenced for employing unauthorized aliens

I-9-Form-Photo-519KE LIAN ZHAO, age 50, of Kenner, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to employing aliens at his restaurant, LA JUMBO CHINA BUFFET (“JUMBO BUFFET”) in New Orleans. The restaurant, JUMBO BUFFET, was also sentenced for making false statements.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced ZHAO to one year of probation and a $100 special assessment.  ZHAO was also ordered to pay $52,305.75 in restitution to the victims, which has been paid.  JUMBO BUFFET was sentenced to one year of probation and a $400 special assessment.

According to court documents, ZHAO and JUMBO BUFFET had been employing aliens at the restaurant for almost four years. A federal investigation revealed that between August 2011 and March 2015, ZHAO recruited, hired, and continued to employ personnel he knew were unlawfully present in the United States.  During this time frame, JUMBO BUFFET knowingly and willfully provided materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to agents of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Furthermore, when investigators requested payroll information from JUMBO BUFFET, the company altered payroll documents to make it look as if it had complied with minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, when witness statements, surveillance, and other evidence showed that employees worked in excess of a 40 hour work week, without being paid overtime, or minimum wage.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharan Lieberman was in charge of the prosecution.



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