Federal charges filed against Asian Buffet owner in Shelbyville after raids
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The owner of an Asian Buffet in Shelbyville is facing federal charges for harboring undocumented workers -- and newly filed court documents reveal where police say he was hiding them.
Fei Zhou Tang is accused of bringing people into the country illegally and harboring them in one side of his duplex. His business was raided by federal agents in January.
Tang owns the Asian Buffet on Howard Drive in Shelbyville. Documents show he also has ties to the Grand Buffet in Mt. Washington that was raided, and the Asian Buffet in Frankfort.
A lengthy complaint filed in federal court outlines the charges against him. The investigation started in June of 2017.
The document says Tang hired undocumented workers and didn't pay them a proper wage. Investigators believe Tang housed the immigrants in the other side of his duplex, and drove them to and from work at his restaurant.
Those workers say they called him "Daddy" or "Papa Tang" -- and they got paid under the table, mostly in cash.
The documents tell how the undocumented workers came to the U.S. One of the Hispanic workers says he paid between $4,000 and $10,000 to be smuggled across the U.S. / Mexico border. A Chinese worker even says he paid $67,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. He also worked for Tang.
Agents say say they found makeshift, wooden beds, plywood walls and two small rooms built inside the garage.
Workers tell investigators they were paid less than minimum wage, sometimes $2.13-an-hour, plus tips. On other occasions, they were only paid tips.
Workers say they weren't paid for work in excess of 40 hours, but often were at the restaurant 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day.
Documents list several Chinese restaurant owners and a pattern of Chinese nationals entering the U.S. and filing asylum claims, including Jumbo Buffet owner Jenny Zhu. That federal investigation is still ongoing.
"They don't have anywhere they can go, and then I got my basement," she told WDRB in January. "It's a walkout basement, and a couple rooms where they're sleeping, they don't need to spend money for."
Federal investigators outlined a phone number that undocumented workers would call to get jobs at Chinese restaurants. Some charged a transport fee to get those jobs, in some cases $200, or even $700. And records say when the workers didn't have that money, the owners would pay for the cost first and would be paid back.
Records show Tang also owns the strip mall where the restaurant is located and purchased that for $790,000. He also owns properties in New York. His attorney hasn't returned our calls for comment.
Copyright 2018. WDRB News. All rights reserved.