Overland Park hotel owners plead guilty to employing undocumented workers

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.

Watch party set today for World Cup match

Fans are expected to gather again today for a World Cup watch party at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Power and Light District, Kansas City, Mo.

The U.S. Men’s National Team, including Graham Zusi and Matt Besler of Sporting Kansas City, will play Belgium in the Round of 16 FIFA World Cup matchup.

The host of the watch party is Sporting Kansas City. Admission is free to the event. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Kansas City doesn’t make the cut for Republican convention

Kansas City won’t be a finalist to serve as host of the 2016 Republican National Convention, according to an announcement today.

Cleveland and Dallas were selected as finalists. Denver and Kansas City did not advance to the finalist stage, according to the announcement today from the RNC’s Site Selection Committee.

A spokesman said the committee’s decision was based on a thorough review of bids, presentations and visits to each of the cities.

This statement was issued by RNC site committee chairwoman Enid Mickelsen:

“After extensive review the site selection committee has chosen Cleveland and Dallas as finalists for the 2016 convention. Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities. After visiting both cities, I can say to my fellow Republicans that we should be excited for the 2016 convention. These world class cities know how to roll out the welcome mat, and more importantly they have the ability to provide our next presidential nominee a launching pad that will put a Republican in the White House in 2016.

“The committee extends our sincere thanks and gratitude to Denver and Kansas City for their hard work and dedication to this effort. Both teams should be proud of their work. They were great ambassadors for their cities, and we felt fortunate to visit and get to know them. This was a tough decision for our committee because all four of these cities made excellent bids.

“As we move closer to choosing a host for our convention, I’m more confident than ever that we’ll have an outstanding partner to showcase our Party and our Republican nominee in 2016.”