Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, both of Overland Park, are charged with the following crimes:
– One count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Five counts of harboring undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Four counts of wire fraud.
The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo.
“The grand jury’s indictment alleges these defendants knew they were hiring undocumented workers,” Grissom said. “They paid the undocumented workers less and they paid them in cash. Their economic motive was to cut their costs and to get an advantage on other hotels that abided by the law.”
In addition to the charges against the owners, one of the employees is being charged. Syed Naqvy, 34, Overland Park, Kan., a desk clerk, is charged with one count of making a false statement to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one count of failing to depart from the United States as ordered.
None of the other undocumented workers is being arrested, Grissom said. They have been interviewed by immigration officials, who will decide what to do about their immigration status after the case has been concluded, Grissom said.
“This prosecution is aimed at unscrupulous employers who are a driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said.
The indictment alleges that in December 2011 investigators from DHS Homeland Security Investigations and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information that the two Clarion hotels were employing undocumented aliens. Investigators interviewed hotel employees and learned that most of them were unlawfully in the United States.
In June 2012, an undercover agent took a job as a housekeeper at the Clarion hotel in Overland Park. The agent made it clear to Chaudary and Bridge when he was hired that he was unlawfully in the United States and had no documents allowing him to be employed, according to the indictment.
The agent learned that Chaudary and Bridge, through their business holdings including Rhonda & Son’s Inc., and Mac & Sons LLC, paid employees who they believed were illegally in the United States a lower hourly rate than other employees. When the undercover agent asked Chaudary why he was paid less, Chaudary told him it was because nothing was being withheld from wages to employees who were illegal.
The indictment alleges Chaudary, Bridge and their business holdings lowered their operating costs because:
– Illegal workers were paid less than other workers.
– The defendants did not pay the employer’s share of Social Security payments.
– The defendants did not pay workers compensation, unemployment insurance or other benefits.
Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy to harbor aliens: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Harboring illegal aliens for financial gain: A maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Making a false statement to the government: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Failing to depart the United States as ordered: A maximum penalty of four years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo." - DOJ, Sept. 11, 2012.
"We want to send a very clear message. ... We are going to enforce immigration laws, and we are going to enforce them equally," Grissom said in a news conference in Kansas City, Kan. "We're not going to enforce them merely on the backs of (undocumented workers). We are going to go after the people hiring them." That symbolizes a switch from years past when employees often were the target. The indictment marks the government's first attempt to seize a hotel in Kansas in a case involving undocumented workers."
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.