The owners of an Overland Park hotel pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge of employing undocumented workers, who they paid less than other employees, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 53, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 41, both of Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain. The case was in U.S. District Court, Kansas City, Kan.
In their pleas, they admitted employing undocumented workers at two hotels they owned: A Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th in Overland Park, and a Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo. Chaudary and Bridge lowered their hotels’ operating costs and put themselves at a competitive advantage by not paying Social Security, Workers Compensation and unemployment insurance for the undocumented workers, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
“Unscrupulous employers are the driving force behind illegal immigration,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “This case should send a message that they are not above the law.”
According to court records, the investigation began in December 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information that the owners of the hotels were employing foreign nationals who not lawfully present in the United States. In June 2012, an undercover agent posing as an undocumented worker got a job at the Overland Park Hotel. He was hired even though he told his employers he was not authorized to work in the United States.
In 2011 and 2012 the defendants filed false and fraudulent Quarterly Wage Reports and Unemployment Tax Returns with the Kansas Department of Labor in which they under-reported the number of employees at the Overland Park hotel, the amount of total wages paid and the amount of unemployment taxes due.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. The defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000. In addition, the government is seeking the forfeiture of any funds or property derived from the defendants’ illegal activities.
Grissom commended Homeland Security Investigations, the Kansas Department of Revenue, the Overland Park Police Department, the U.S. Department of Labor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.