Restaurant owner, wife charged with harboring undocumented immigrants following house fire deaths
(WJBK) - The owner of restaurant in Novi and his wife have been charged with harboring undocumented immigrants after five people died in a house fire last month. Authorities began investigating after the house in the 23000 block of Mystic Forest Drive went up in flames. The five people were found dead in the basement.
Authorities allege Roger Tam, 55, and his wife Ada Lei, 48, hired the five people, who are of Mexican nationality, to work at Kim's Garden. They were all provided housing in the Novi home, which was owned by Tam and Lei, and were transported to and from the restaurant as a condition of their employment.
Authorities add that employment and financial records at Kim's Garden revealed "no indication" that the five people were legally employed at the restaurant.
"This case is a sobering reminder of the dangers employers create when they harbor undocumented immigrants," United States Attorney General Barbaba McQuade said in a news release. "In order to obtain a competitive advantage by paying lower wages and evading taxes, some employers will subject undocumented workers to poor living conditions and even dangerous situations."
Department of Homeland Security databases revealed that all five men were illegally in the country and had entered in the last six months.
If found guilty, Tam and Lei face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.