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11/29/2012

Indiana restaurant owners indicted for harboring illegal aliens

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Husband and wife restaurant owners were charged with harboring illegal aliens and mail fraud in an indictment that was unsealed Thursday in the Northern District of Indiana. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), IRS's-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Michael McClellan, 38, and Tina McClellan, 36, of Richton Park, Ill., own and operate the Paragon Restaurant in Schererville, Ind., and T & M Daycare located in Calumet City, Ill., were charged in an indictment that was returned Oct. 17 and unsealed Nov. 29.

Michael McClellan was charged with one count of harboring illegal aliens and three counts of mail fraud. McClellan and his wife Tina McClellan were also charged with one count of making money transactions in criminally derived property.

The indictment alleges that in February 2009, and continuing until on or about March 2010, Michael McClellan harbored illegal aliens at the Paragon Restaurant and at a home he owned located behind the restaurant. He also submitted false quarterly reports which failed to account for restaurant employees he had paid in cash in a scheme to defraud the Indiana Department of Workforce Development out of unemployment insurance tax contributions.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that from 2006 through 2010 the McClellans, as owners of the T & M Daycare center, provided false information to the State of Illinois claiming that certain children had attended the daycare, when, in fact, they had not, causing reimbursements of at least $200,000 from the State of Illinois and Healthy Start program. The McClellans used the criminally derived funds to purchase the home located behind the Paragon Restaurant.

"Homeland Security Investigations holds employers accountable when they knowingly hire an illegal alien workforce to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Our goal is to level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules", said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago.

Assistant United States Attorney Gary Bell, Northern District of Indiana, is prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.