Jacksonville, Florida – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that Xiu Rong Liu (43) and Liang Wu Yang (44), both of Jacksonville, have pleaded guilty to harboring undocumented aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain. They each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Liu and Yang were charged on July 31, 2017.
According to court documents, Liu and Yang are husband and wife and operated the Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge in Jacksonville. On July 6, 2017, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents went to a residence in Jacksonville owned by Liu and Yang as part of an unrelated immigration investigation and encountered several people living there. The agents observed mattresses on the floor of the formal dining room, which had been converted into a makeshift bedroom. Further investigation revealed that all of the people who lived at the residence, except one, were undocumented aliens from Indonesia and Guatemala, that they all lived at the house rent free, and that they worked at the Fujiyama restaurant. Yang provided some of the workers with rides between the residence and the restaurant.
Under federal law, an employer is required to complete an Enforcement Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) verifying that an employee is lawfully permitted to work in the United States. Liu and Yang did not complete the form certifying the aliens. The aliens were paid in cash and Liu and Yang did not withhold taxes and other payments from the workers’ wages and did not pay the employer’s portion of these payments to government authorities. They also did not report the workers to state revenue authorities as required under Florida law, ensuring the collection of the proper amount of unemployment compensation tax.