NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The owner of a North Charleston china buffet was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to tax evasion and employing undocumented immigrants.
Ji Duan Fang, 35, owner of Jade China Buffet, was charged by a federal grand jury last October.
Fang pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring at least 14 undocumented immigrants to work at the restaurant. Investigators say between 2008 and 2011, Fang paid the illegal alien employees in cash and did not collect or pay employment taxes for these employees. Fang also harbored and transported the illegal aliens to and from his restaurant. Fang's failure to collect and pay the employment taxes for the illegal alien employees resulted in $212,225 in unpaid taxes.
"Employees have a right to expect their withheld employment taxes, which fund future benefits, will be paid by their employer, " said Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Field Office. "IRS-Criminal Investigation takes this type of offense seriously and will continue its efforts to protect employees by rooting out employers who violate the tax laws." United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that "prosecuting tax fraud is a priority of the Justice Department, particularly in an era of trillion dollar deficits."
After 12 months of imprisonment, Fang will serve six months in a community corrections center and upon his release will be supervised for three years.
The case was investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart of the Charleston office prosecuted the case.