NKY couple guilty of housing, employing undocumented workers at Chinese buffet
A nurse treating one of the workers for burns tipped authorities after being ‘disturbed’ by what she heard.
COVINGTON, Ky. (WXIX) - A federal grand jury on Friday concluded a three day trial by finding a couple guilty of harboring undocumented workers for profit.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky announced the conviction Friday afternoon.
The married couple, 50-year-old Yun Zheng (also known as “Wendy”) and 48-year-old an Qui Wu (also known as “Jason”) owned and operated the Tokyo Dragon Buffet in Alexandria, according to the Department of Justice.
The couple employed at least four undocumented workers at the restaurant who were in the US illegally, the DOJ says.
Evidence presented at trial showed the defendants “knew or recklessly disregarded facts indicating” the workers’ immigration status, a requirement for a conviction under US criminal code.
The DOJ says the evidence also established the couple housed the workers in their home and provided “virtually all the workers’ transportation to avoid detection.”
The investigation began after one of the undocumented people was badly burned by hot oil while working at the restaurant. The owners, according to the DOJ, refused to take him to the hospital because, as a defendant testified, the worker was present illegally and would be deported.
The worker received treatment several days later. The nurses who treated him testified to having been “so disturbed by what the worker described and the defendants’ conduct” that one of them called a law enforcement hotline, the DOJ says.
A federal grand jury in Kenton County indicted the couple in September 2021.
The trial jury on Friday deliberated for four hours before delivering a pair of guilty verdicts.
Wendy and Jason were convicted on four counts of knowingly concealing, harboring or shielding a person present in the US illegally for commercial or private financial gain.
Their sentencing is scheduled for May 4.
They face up to ten years in prison and up to $250,000 for each of the four counts.
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