March trial date set for Lexington owners of four Subway restaurants

gkocher1@herald-leader.comDecember 30, 2013 

Amrutlal Patel, left, and Dakshaben Patel.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier on Monday set a March 3 trial date for a Lexington couple charged with knowingly and willfully harboring undocumented Indian nationals in four Subway restaurants.

Defense attorney Jarrod Beck entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Amrutlal Patel, while defense attorney Mark Wohlander entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Patel's wife, Dakshaben Patel. Wier presided over the arraignment held in Lexington.

An indictment filed this month in U.S. District Court in London charged the Patels with four counts of harboring undocumented immigrants. It identifies four people by initials only whom the Patels allegedly concealed "for the purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain" in violation of federal law.

The Patels, who are from India but who have lived in the United States since 2006, were arrested Nov. 19 after federal agents raided their Subway stores in Lexington. The Patels, both 46, are free on bond but are living at their Lexington home under restrictions on travel.

Prosecutors say the Patels required undocumented Indian nationals to work 10- and 12-hour days up to seven days a week at the four Lexington restaurants. Wohlander has said the Patels were only "providing (the workers) an opportunity to survive while they were in this country."

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell will preside over the trial, which is expected to last eight days.

If convicted, the Patels could face up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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