Two restaurant owners in Florida have pleaded guilty to harboring undocumented workers, the State Attorney’s Office revealed on Wednesday.
Ge Tang, 41, and Yanshen Huang, 36, admitted to illegally employing undocumented immigrants at their restaurants “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.”
Originally from China, Tang and Huang are naturalized U.S. citizens who owned and operated Tank’s Sushi Bistro Seafood & Steaks in St. Augustine and Tank’s Sushi Bistro in Ponte Vedra.
Investigation into their restaurant operation started in September 2020 as Homeland Security agents looked into a separate immigration case involving a Guatemalan man.
According to the SAO, the owners housed undocumented workers in their homes near the restaurants and provided daily transportation for them. The workers were reportedly paid in cash without taxes being withheld.
Authorities discovered several makeshift bedrooms on the first and second floors inside Tang’s home in St. Augustine.
A Guatemalan worker told investigators they worked 12-hour days six days a week. For the work, he received $4,000 in cash monthly in addition to free food and lodging.
Tang and Huang, who were both arrested in May, confessed to not requiring their employees provide proper documentation to prove they are allowed to work in the U.S.
As part of their plea agreement, Tang and Huang will forfeit their homes, a minivan that was used to transport workers and $35,720 in cash. They now face 10-year prison sentences for the charge, with the sentencing hearings set to start on Jan. 24, 2023.