NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A federal indictment was unsealed today charging the owners of the New China Buffett and Grill (NCBG) in Clarksville, Tennessee, with conspiracy and tax fraud charges relating to the employment of undocumented workers from China and Guatemala, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Quanwei Shi and Chongqiang Chen, both 29, of Clarksville, were indicted last month and charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens; harboring illegal aliens; money laundering; income tax fraud; and employment tax fraud. Shi was arrested at his home in Clarksville on March 17 and Chen surrendered to U.S. Marshals earlier today in the Eastern District of New York.
According to the indictment, between 2017 and April 2019, Shi and Chen, as the owners of the NCBG in Clarksville, conspired to conceal and harbor illegal aliens from China and Guatemala, profiting from their employment at NCBG. The undocumented workers were not required to complete any forms related to immigration status and were paid in cash, outside the regular payroll system. In addition, the indictment alleges that the undocumented workers lived with Shi and Chen at their residence; were transported to NCBG and back daily; and were assigned to work in the kitchen where they would not be able to interact with the patrons of the restaurant.
The indictment further alleges that Shi evaded payroll taxes by failing to withhold $175,455.00 from the undocumented workers’ payments. These income and FICA taxes were not paid over to the IRS as required, but instead were used for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Additionally, the indictment alleges that Shi signed and caused false forms to be filed with the IRS that under reported NCBG gross receipts for tax years 2017and 2018.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation against real property located at 403 D Street in Clarksville and vehicles and bank accounts used in furtherance of the conspiracy.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations; the IRS-Criminal Investigation; the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Tennessee Bureau of Workers Compensation; the Clarksville Police Department; and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Beth Myers and Robert Levine are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.