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Restaurant owners sentenced for immigration crimes

A father and son have been sentenced after they were caught harboring illegal immigrants as workers at their restaurant in Meridian. 

36-year-old Cheng Lin, and his father, 61-year-old Guo Guang Lin pled guilty to harboring illegal aliens at their restaurant, China Buffet II.

According to the U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Homeland Security, the two committed the crime over a five-year period. From 2012 through 2017, HSI agents observed a 15-passenger van registered to China Buffet II making multiple trips to a house (also owned by the company) to pick up illegal immigrants living there. The van would take them to and from the home and the restaurant. 

On February 22, 2017, HSI agents executed a search warrant at China Buffet and encountered 9 illegal workers. None of them were required to complete any paperwork or show any documents or identification when they were hired as employees, and they were never asked about their immigration status.

When Cheng Lin was interviewed, he admitted that the employees he paid in cash lived at the house owned by China Buffet II. A monthly payroll ledger discovered during the search confirmed illegal employee names, dates worked, amounts paid and other information from July 2013 through January 2017. This ledger was separate from the payroll records for legal employees.

Because this payroll was kept separate, they never reported the wages to the IRS and didn’t pay the proper taxes. 

Cheng and Guo Guang will serve two years of probation, and they’ll pay nearly $1 million in fines and forfeitures.

  • $437,046 cash seized from safe deposit box number at Citizen’s National Bank;
  • $106,000 cash in lieu of house owned by the corporation used to house illegal aliens;
  • $86,070 cash seized from Defendant Cheng Lin’s home;
  • $68,124.00 cash seized at the China Buffet II Restaurant;
  • $34,212.94 held at Citizens National Bank in the name of Lin’s China Buffet of Meridian, Inc
  • Insurance payments or proceeds relating to the 2007 Ford E-350 van, VIN x-8040;

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