WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - A couple who owned a West Ashley Chinese restaurant were sentenced to prison after being found guilty of withholding taxes and hiring illegal aliens.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles said 52-year-old Dao Ping Lin and 52-year-old Jin Xian Yang, both of Charleston, were sentenced on Friday in federal court in Charleston regarding guilty pleas both entered on Oct. 22, 2013.
United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Lin to one year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release for willful failure to truthfully collect and pay over withholding taxes, and six months in prison for pattern or practice of hiring illegal aliens.
Lin's sentences are to run concurrently.
Yang was sentenced to eighteen months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for structuring bank transactions of $10,000 or less.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between February 2009 and March 2009, Lin and Yang came to the attention of investigators when the couple purchased $85,885 worth of U.S. Postal Service money orders with each order slightly less than the $3,000 that would have been required to report.
This led to a joint investigation by the Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations joined the investigation after receiving information from an anonymous source that Lin was employing illegal aliens and paying workers under the table.
An investigation revealed that Lin had owned and operated Healthy Inc., d/b/a Osaka Restaurant in Charleston since 2006, and most of his employees were illegal aliens.
The illegal aliens' wages, all paid in cash, were not included on tax forms. For the first quarter in 2007 through the fourth quarter of 2010, Lin filed false Form 941s.
After conducting surveillance and a traffic stop of an Osaka Restaurant van that contained illegal alien workers, search warrants were executed at Lin and Yang's home, the employee house and Osaka Restaurant.
Evidence seized during the searches included payroll sheets itemizing the amounts employees were paid by checks and the amounts employees were paid in cash.
When agents searched the employee house they found two people. One individual had a pending asylum petition and the other individual was an illegal alien. Four additional illegal alien workers were found at the restaurant.
ICE administratively arrested the five illegal aliens, who were later deported.
During the course of the investigation, agents seized $399,619 in currency from Lin and Yang as well as a 2008 Infinity.