Friday, April 24, 2009

Employment Agency Operator Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Immigration Crimes

A jury in federal district court has returned a guilty verdict against LIANG YANG, 37, of Duluth, Georgia on charges of conspiring to transport, harbor and induce illegal aliens to remain in the United States. YANG was indicted on April 15, 2008 along with ten other employment agency owners and individuals who would transport the illegal workers to their jobs. He is the only defendant to go to trial. Defendants in three related cases are being sentenced on Tuesday, April 28, 2009.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today’s verdict, “Those who find employment for illegal immigrants are just as guilty under the law as those who employ illegal workers. In this case, the defendant found jobs for illegal immigrants as workers in Chinese restaurants as far away as New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The illegal aliens would work 10 and 12 hour days, six days a week, for less than minimum wage. The defendant profited from this exploitation of the immigration laws, but now he will pay the price with a prison sentence.”

Kenneth Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations in Atlanta, said, “ICE aggressively targets those who egregiously violate immigration laws by finding employment for an illegal alien workforce. This case demonstrates firsthand how ICE agents use our investigative tools to pursue those who take advantage of illegal labor and gain an unfair advantage in the business marketplace, all for personal profit.”

Greg Jones, FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge, said, “Today’s verdict demonstrates that the FBI, by working together in this investigation and similar investigations with our law enforcement partners, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and United States Postal Service, Atlanta, Georgia, can have a significant impact on the criminal element operating within our community and beyond. Although the employment agencies were based here in the Atlanta area, their placement of workers reached far beyond the state. This safe-haven for illegal workers has been dismantled as a result of this collective effort.”

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: The jury found YANG guilty on the sole count of conspiracy. Evidence at trial showed that employment agencies located at 3425 Chamblee Dunwoody Road were often one of the first stops for illegal Hispanic workers. The agencies were all run by Chinese individuals, some of whom were also illegally here. YANG was fluent in Spanish and two Chinese dialects and the testimony was that he served as the broker between the illegal workers and Chinese restaurants looking for cheap labor. In fact, the restaurants preferred more recent, less-experienced immigrants as they could pay these workers less money and they would not complain about the long hours or living conditions. YANG was able to place these illegal workers in jobs in Chinese restaurants and also provide the illegal worker transportation to the restaurant without any initial payment by the worker. The transportation fee and YANG’s commission would be paid up-front by the restaurant owner, who would then deduct that cost from the wages paid to the worker. YANG could make hundreds of dollars off the placement of each illegal worker. YANG had previously operated an employment agency at this same location in 2001-2002 and had established a reputation as a successful businessman and source of cheap labor. After the guilty verdict today, YANG was immediately taken into custody.

YANG could receive a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 8, 2009, at 10:30 before United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) and Postal Inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Pearce and Susan Coppedge are prosecuting the case.

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