The owner and manager of the Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet restaurants in Spring Lake Park and West St. Paul pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to employing illegal, undocumented workers.
The owner: Ming Guo, 46
The manager: Bijian Weng, 28, aka Wilson
According to documents filed in court, Guo and Weng hired at least 17 unauthorized workers between Sept. 2013 and Sept. 2014. Twin raids were conducted at the Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet on Sept. 30, 2014. Guo became a target of the raids after investigators came to suspect workers from foreign countries were being brought in to join the staff.
"The guilty pleas today should send a strong message to the Minnesota business community -- companies that knowingly employ unauthorized aliens subject themselves to investigation and they will be punished accordingly." said Special Agent in Charge J. Michael Netherland. "Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation's legal workers and to level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules."
The students at a nearby beauty school told Fox 9 they always thought something was strange because half of the workers at the restaurant would be Chinese and the other half would be Mexican. Apparently, those workers frequently arrived by van. The employees at the restaurants all told Fox 9 News they knew nothing or spoke very little English.
"Undocumented workers are vulnerable to exploitation," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Provinzino. "Those who intentionally employ undocumented immigrants allow for these workers to be taken advantage of."