NKY Couple Guilty of Housing, Employing Undocumented Chinese Buffet Workers

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COVINGTON, Ky. (WXIX) – A federal grand jury concluded a three-day trial on Friday finding a couple guilty of harboring undocumented workers for profit.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky announced the sentencing Friday afternoon.

The married couple, Yun Zheng (also known as “Wendy”), 50, and Un Qui Wu (also known as “Jason”), 48, owned and operated the Tokyo Dragon Buffet in Alexandria, according to the Department. of Justice.

The couple employed at least four undocumented workers at the restaurant who were in the United States illegally, according to the DOJ.

Evidence presented at trial showed the defendants “recklessly knew or ignored facts indicative of” the workers’ immigration status, a requirement for a conviction under the U.S. criminal code.

The DOJ says the evidence also established that the couple housed the workers in their home and provided “virtually all worker transportation to avoid detection.”

The investigation began after one of the undocumented migrants was seriously burned by hot oil while working in the restaurant. The owners, according to the DOJ, refused to take him to the hospital because, as one defendant testified, the worker was present illegally and would be deported.

The worker received treatment a few days later. The nurses who treated him testified that they were “so disturbed by what the worker described and the conduct of the defendants” that one of them called a law enforcement hotline, according to the DOJ.

A Kenton County federal grand jury indicted the couple in September 2021.

On Friday, the trial jury deliberated for four hours before returning a pair of guilty verdicts.

Wendy and Jason were convicted of four counts of knowingly concealing, harboring, or protecting a person unlawfully present in the United States for private business or financial gain.

Their sentencing is scheduled for May 4.

They face up to ten years in prison and up to $250,000 on each of four counts.

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