Chinese brothers who hired illegal immigrants at Kentucky restaurants plead guilty

Brothers from China who employed people who entered the U.S. illegally have pleaded guilty to wage violations at restaurants in Frankfort and Shelbyville.

Fei Guo Tang, 49, who ran the Asian Buffet restaurant in Frankfort, admitted failing to pay workers the minimum required wage and overtime, and also pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography, according to court records.

He failed to pay five workers a total of $60,690 they were due.

Fei Zhou Tang, 51, who owns the Asian Buffet restaurant in Shelbyville, pleaded guilty to not paying workers minimum wage and overtime and to a charge of making false statements in wage-reporting documents.

He shorted six workers a total of $229,207 in pay, according to his plea agreement.

The two pleaded guilty last week before U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove.

The cases provided a look inside the network of workers in the country illegally.

A man who started working at the Asian Buffet in Frankfort who was from Guatemala said he had paid a smuggler $8,000 to get him into the U.S. in 2010, according to a court record.

Fei Guo Tang
Fe Guo Tang, of Frankfort, pleaded guilty in a federal criminal case in 2019. Grayson County Detention Center

The man, who came to Kentucky in 2016 and was identified only as F.C.C. in court documents, said Tang provided him a place to live and drove him two and from the restaurant.

He worked 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, for $2,500 a month in cash.

Tang, who had entered the U.S. illegally using a fake passport in the early 1980s, didn’t ask F.C.C. for any employment documents until after an immigration official visited the restaurant, then told the man how to get fake documents, according to the court record.

And in Fei Zhou Tang’s case, a witness told investigators that Hispanic workers in the country illegally have telephone numbers they can call for referrals to jobs at Chinese restaurants around the country.

Police found images of child pornography on Fei Guo Tang’s phone when they searched.

He faces five to 20 years in prison on that charge.

Tang has to pay restitution to the employees he cheated. He also agreed to pay the government $120,000 in lieu of forfeiting his house in Frankfort and will pay a penalty of $20,000 to the federal Department of Labor.

Fei Zhou Tang will pay a penalty of $20,000 and agreed to pay $170,500 in lieu of forfeiting his house and vehicles to the government.

He faces up to five years in prison for making false statements on employment records.

Each brother faces a penalty of $10,000 on the wage violations, or $10,000 plus up to six months in jail for a second offense.