Kansas City, Kan. -- U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Tuesday morning the indictment of two Overland Park hotel owners. Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, both of Overland Park, are charged with the following: one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain; five counts of harboring undocumented aliens for personal gain; and four counts of wire fraud.
Grissom said the couple owns the Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St., Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, near Kansas City International Airport.
The indictment alleges the two conspired to hire undocumented workers as house keepers and paid them less than documented workers, slightly below minimum wage. He said 10 workers were being interviewed Tuesday morning after agents went to the hotel at 9 a.m.
Grissom said the workers are primarily from Mexico, but a couple of them are from Pakistan. He said to the best of his knowledge, they came to the country of their own accord.
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.
“This prosecution is aimed at unscrupulous employers who are a riving 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 indictment states that 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 S curity 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.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.
The government is also seeking forfeiture of the hotels in Overland Park and Kansas City, Mo., as well as bank accounts.
Grissom said other cases similar to this are going on in cities throughout the state, including Topeka and Wichita.