The owners of two Kansas City-area Clarion hotels have been indicted on charges of knowingly hiring undocumented workers who were paid less than other employees.
Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, both of Overland Park, own the Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle near the Kansas City International Airport.
Both pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said the grand jury's indictment alleges Chaudary and Bridge knew they were hiring undocumented workers to serve as housekeepers. This gave them a competitive advantage over law-abiding hotel owners, 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," Grissom said.
The couple has been charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers for personal gain, five counts of harboring undocumented workers for personal gain and four counts of wire fraud.
The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes, including the two hotels the couple own. The government would seize the properties and then sell them, gaining money for taxpayers. The couple failed to pay the government the payroll taxes that they should have, Grissom alleges.
"This prosecution is aimed at unscrupulous employers who are a driving force behind illegal immigration," Grissom said. "We're going to go after people who are hiring them."
The indictment alleges that in December 2011 investigators from DHS Homeland Security Investigations and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information that the two hotels were employing undocumented workers.
Investigators interviewed hotel employees and found out that most of them were illegally in the United States.
In June 2012, an undercover agent took a job as a housekeeper at the Clarion hotel in Overland Park, Grissom said.
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 then learned that Chaudary and Bridge 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, according to the indictment.
None of the other undocumented workers are being arrested, Grissom said.
"We are going to enforce immigration laws and we're going to enforce them equally. We're not going to enforce them on the backs of victims such as these undocumented workers. We're going to go after people who are hiring them," he said.
Grissom said the undocumented workers were interviewed by immigration officials, who will decide what to do about their immigration status after the case has been closed.
"We'll treat each person as an individual. What are your reasons for being in the country, do you have an extensive criminal history, are you a gang-affiliated member?" special agent Gary Hartwig said.
Social workers will help determine if there are routes in which the illegal immigrants can obtain legal means to stay in the United States.
In addition to the charges against the owners, a desk clerk, Syed Naqvy, 34, of Overland Park, is charged with one count of making a false statement to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one count of failing to depart from the United States as ordered.
Grissom said this is an important prosecution and sets a tone for the hospitality industry.
"This will give them pause to think about what they're doing, do they want to go to prison just for the mere purpose of having an unfair advantage over competitors?" Grissom said.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Friday, May 24 2013 9:01 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:01:17 GMT
Strong feelings are funning high one day after the Boy Scouts of America reversed its policy on gay scouts. The decision upset one Kansas City man so much that he decided to make a very personal protest.More >
Strong feelings are running high one day after the Boy Scouts of America reversed its policy on gay scouts. The decision upset one Kansas City man so much that he decided to make a very personal protest.More >
Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."More >
The trucker was hauling drilling equipment when his load bumped against the steel framework over an Interstate 5 bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and watched in horror as the span collapsed into the water behind him....More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:38 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:38:20 GMT
The federal government warned recently that nearly three out of five tested positive for the bacteria found in feces. With Memorial Day weekend marking the official start of pool season, the Centers forMore >
The federal government warned recently that nearly three out of five tested positive for the bacteria found in feces. There are steps you can take to enjoy a summer day at the pool. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:31:26 GMT
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.The girl was dancing in the upper-deck stands when she suddenly collapsed.More >
A nurse who serves on the Kauffman Stadium K-crew was able to revive a 14-year-old girl who collapsed during Thursday night's game.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:40 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:40:51 GMT
It was a wild night after a liquor store robber shoved two people into a cooler, got into a shootout with police and drove the wrong way on Interstate 70 before crashing into a Fed-Ex truck.The suspect,More >
It was a wild night after a liquor store robber shoved two people into a cooler, got into a shootout with police and drove the wrong way on Interstate 70 before crashing into a Fed-Ex truck.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 10:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:30:12 GMT
The state of Missouri's top auditor is discussing a possible review of the Kansas City, MO, Water Services Department after four stories from the KCTV5 Investigations' team exposed major discrepancies. TheMore >
The state of Missouri's top auditor is discussing a possible review of the Kansas City, MO, Water Services Department after four stories from the KCTV5 Investigations' team exposed major discrepancies.More >
Friday, May 24 2013 5:23 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:23:39 GMT
Police are investigating whether a person being shot in the chest is connected to a home invasion robbery.Two men attempted to burst into a home in the 106 block of Greenwood Road when shots were fired.More >
A woman fired shots at three men attempting to break into her home, and one of the suspects was shot in the chest, police said. Her husband described the harrowing ordeal. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:16:39 GMT
(RNN) – When faced with a cleaver-wielding killer who'd just murdered someone, what would you do? For Ingrid Loyau-Kennet, the answer was obvious. Instead of running for her life, she engaged him inMore >
A British woman voluntarily put herself face-to-face with an alleged terrorist and may have saved lives. More >
Friday, May 24 2013 6:57 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:57:04 GMT
A former KCK police officer is accused of threatening the lives of Police Chief Rick Armstrong and Capt. Greg Lawson.A federal grand jury has indicted Johh R. Hudson. He faces four counts involving threatsMore >
A former KCK police officer is accused of threatening the lives of police Chief Rick Armstrong and Capt. Greg Lawson.More >
Saturday, May 25 2013 11:47 AM EDT2013-05-25 15:47:56 GMT
A popular social networking site is working to scrub its database of people who advertise sex services by changing some of the wording in its user agreement. The site in question is LinkedIn, which hasMore >
A popular social networking site is working to scrub its database of people who advertise sex services by changing some of the wording in its user agreement.More >