The owners of the New China Buffet and Grill in Tennessee have been charged with employment and income tax fraud, conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and money laundering. Quanwei Shi and Chongqiang Chen, both 29, are accused of hiring undocumented workers from China and Guatemala to work at their restaurant. They did not require the workers to complete any forms related to immigration status and paid them in cash.

The indictment states that Shi evaded payroll taxes by failing to withhold $175,455 from the workers’ payments. Shi is also accused of signing and filing false forms with the IRS that under reported the business gross receipts for tax years 2017 and 2018.

The illegal workers, who lived with Shi and Chen, were transported to the restaurant daily and ordered to work in the kitchen, where they could not interact with the restaurant’s customers.

The defendants face up to 20 years in prison.

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