Managers accused of hiring illegal workers

June 2, 2011 3:33:23 PM PDT
Five managers who work or worked at a Houston seafood restaurant chain have been indicted on allegations of employing illegal workers and falsifying their documents.

Joel Moreno, 36, Alfredo Aguilar Gonzalez, 43, and Alejandro Aguilar Gonzalez, aka Eduardo Martinez, 27, Victor Batz, 49, and Romelia Lopez, 26, are charged with conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to illegally reside in the United States and to harbor the aliens beginning in April 2009 to the present, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement. Each suspect is also charged with one count each of making false statements on employment documents during the existence of the conspiracy.

All five suspects managed or currently manage Connie's Seafood Kitchen Inc., which also has the assumed name of Mambo Seafood, according to the statement. Authorities allege the managers knowingly sought to employ illegal immigrants and hired many of them by accepting fraudulently completed I-9 forms and allowing their employees to use several Social Security numbers and identities during their employment.

Moreno, Alfredo Gonzalez and Batz were arrested Tuesday, while Lopez was arrested Wednesday. A warrant for the arrest of Alejandro Gonzalez remains outstanding. Authorities also allege that Alejandro Gonzalez himself is illegally in the United States.

Lopez is expected to make her initial court appearance by Friday. The court has ordered Moreno, Gonzalez and Batz released on bond pending trial, which has been set for Aug. 9, 2011.

If convicted on all the charges, each suspect faces up to 15 years in prison and fines worth up to $1.25 million.

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