ATLANTA - A 37-year-old man was sentenced to five years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
According to court records, from 2001 to 2003, Laing Yang, of Duluth, Ga., operated an employment agency in Atlanta which found jobs in Chinese restaurants, predominantly for illegal Hispanic workers. He returned to the employment agency and his illegal activity in November 2007.
Information presented in court revealed that Yang served as the broker between the illegal workers and Chinese restaurants looking for cheap labor. He was able to place these illegal workers in jobs in Chinese restaurants and also provide the illegal workers' transportation to the restaurants without any initial payment by the workers. The transportation fee and Yang's commission would be paid up-front by the restaurant owner, who would then deduct that cost from the wages paid to the worker.
U. S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said, "Operating out of a strip mall in Chamblee, five employment agency owners have now been convicted for finding jobs for illegal immigrants in Chinese restaurants up and down the eastern United States. This defendant knew the workers would not be asked for work authorization and would be willing to pay referral fees to him. He profited for a time from his exploitation of the immigration laws and the illegal workers, but his prison sentence should remind those who employ or find jobs for illegal aliens -- alien harboring can be a costly crime."
"All too often, illegal alien workers are exploited in some fashion by the businesses that hire them, and that is unacceptable," said Kenneth A. Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Atlanta. "We will continue using our investigative tools to pursue those who take advantage of illegal labor for personal profit."
The investigation included surveillance and undercover agents posing as undocumented workers seeking jobs from Yang at Dong Sheng Employment Agency, located in the Chamblee area. Neither the undercover agent, nor the other aliens present and seeking employment, were ever asked for documentation that they were authorized to work in this country. The undercover agent captured on tape the defendant offering a job working seven days a week, for 12 hours a day, for the salary of $1,000 per month.
Two men who had driven the aliens to jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia testified at trial against Yang and stated that they would drive the workers to the Chinese restaurant where they would be paid a referral fee that ranged from $800 to $1,000 per worker, and they would return that fee to Yang. Testimony at trial showed that Yang was placing up to 10 workers a week. The drivers were also paid based on the number of illegal aliens they transported.
Assistant U. S. Attorneys Susan Coppedge and Brian Pearce prosecuted the case.