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Owners, operators of Japanese restaurants indicted for harboring undocumented workers

Bill would make it illegal for landlords to rent to undocumented immigrants in Tennessee
Posted at 4:29 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 17:29:11-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Four owners of local restaurants were charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers while employing them across the Midstate, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The indictment charged Zhongzhi “Tommy” Zhuo, 46, Jianping “Alan” Zhuo, 37, and Xiaofen “Joyce” Zhuo, 38, of Hendersonville, Tennessee and Jianhua “Jason” Zhuo, 35, and Lili Wu, 32, of Gallatin, Tennessee.

The restaurants owned and operated by those charged in the indictment were Fuji Japanese Steakhouse in Hendersonville, Goodlettsville and White House, Bonfire Mongolian Grill in Hendersonville, Clarksville, Mt. Juliet and Spring Hill, and Koi Japanese Steakhouse in Gallatin.

According to the allegations, Zhongzhi, Jianping, Jianjua and Wu schemed to harbor illegal immigrants by providing financial support through employment, housing and transportation.

The charged individuals also owned or leased homes that they are accused of using to house undocumented workers.

Other allegations said that the defendants paid a broker to find and deliver undocumented workers to their restaurants and did not require any applications or documents to determine immigration status or employment authorization. They also allegedly transported the workers between residences and restaurants, while maintaining separate books to account for payments outside of their regular payroll system.

By paying the undocumented workers in cash, the employers withheld employment taxes from the IRS.

If convicted, the maximum penalties for these crimes are between five and 20 years in prison.