Buffet co-owner gets 21 months in prison

RINCON - One of the owners of a popular Chinese food buffet in this Effingham County city was sentenced to 21 months in prison Thursday for conspiracy to harbor and employ illegal immigrants at his restaurant.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. also sentenced Guo Hua Jiang, 36, to three years on supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

Edmund Booth Jr., U.S. attorney for the Southern District, said there is no parole in the federal system.

Booth said that on May 22, Jiang entered a guilty plea and agreed to the forfeiture of $75,000 instead of forfeiting two Rincon residences, where Jiang harbored the illegal immigrants.

Jiang's codefendant - his wife, Jian Chun Liu, 36 - also entered a guilty plea to employing illegal immigrants at their restaurant, Hong Kong Buffet. She has not yet been sentenced.

Both were arrested in November and face outstanding orders of deportation.

According to the indictment, Jiang and Liu employed one or more illegal immigrants since Feb. 25 to "obtain commercial advantage and private financial gain ... by avoiding tax and Social Security payments, the cost of employee benefits, unemployment insurance, worker's compensation insurance and fair labor standards and wages."

Booth had said at least 10 illegal immigrants were employed at the restaurant. Their cases are being handled by federal authorities.

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