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Worksite Enforcement
01/07/2009

Kentucky restaurant owner sentenced to 8 months for employing illegal aliens

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The owner of a LaGrange restaurant was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in federal prison following his guilty plea to knowingly employing illegal aliens. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Fei Guo Tang, 38, of LaGrange, Ky., is the owner of Jumbo Buffet located at 1218 Market St. in LaGrange. He was sentenced Jan. 6 by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III, Western District of Kentucky, to eight months in prison for employing illegal aliens at his restaurant. Tang was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his release from prison.

Tang had pleaded guilty to knowingly employing at least 10 illegal aliens at his restaurant between November 2006 and November 2007 for commercial advantage and financial gain. He was arrested Nov. 14, 2007, when ICE agents executed a search warrant at his restaurant. During the search warrant ICE agents seized about $59,000 from the restaurant, which will be forfeited to the United States, and detained six illegal aliens found working at the restaurant, who have since been deported.

ICE agents initiated the investigation in December 2006 after receiving credible information that illegal aliens were knowingly being employed at the Jumbo Buffet restaurant. Tang is not a U.S. citizen, and will be subject to deportation proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.

"ICE aggressively targets employers who egregiously violate immigration laws by knowingly employing an illegal alien workforce," said Jerry Phillips, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE office of investigations in Louisville. "This case demonstrates firsthand how ICE agents use our investigative tools to pursue those who take advantage of illegal labor for personal profit, and to gain an unfair advantage in the business marketplace."

Since it was established in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in the United States. In 2008, ICE made more than 1,100 criminal arrests tied to work-site enforcement investigations. Of those charged criminally in these types of cases, 135 were business owners, managers, supervisors, or human resource employees. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE also took 5,100 illegal aliens into custody on administrative immigration violations during worksite investigations.

To help employers build a legal workforce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established an initiative called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE. IMAGE is designed to build cooperative relationships between the government and businesses, strengthen hiring practices, and reduce the unlawful employment of illegal aliens. The initiative also seeks to gain greater industry compliance and corporate due diligence through enhanced training and education of employers. ICE encourages employers to review the IMAGE program materials available at: www.ice.gov.