Shirokiya food vendor is fined for illegal hires
A retailer at Ala Moana Center had two payrolls on payday: one for its regular employees and one for its illegal workers.
Yuko Fujita, president of Tenryoan Inc., pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to hiring unauthorized aliens on behalf of her company since its inception in February 2004. Tenryoan is a food vendor in Shirokiya.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren fined Tenryoan $9,000. According to the company's plea agreement, it paid $3,000 for each of three illegal workers the government identified.
By entering into the plea agreement, Tenryoan avoided indictment for other possible charges, including alien harboring, money laundering, making false statements and criminal conspiracy.
"I hope that Shirokiya steps up to the plate and accepts some of the responsibility for this incident and takes affirmative measures to ensure that this does not happen again," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino.
He said he also hopes this serves as a wake-up call to the management at Ala Moana and other shopping venues to impress upon their tenants the consequences of hiring illegal workers.
None of the illegal workers is named in the court record. Hino said one is a Japanese national who was here as a student, another was a tourist from Nicaragua who overstayed his visit and the third, from the Philippines, entered the country using somebody else's identification.
Hino said the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service stumbled onto the case while following around the third illegal worker. The immigration service had already arrested him for using a false identity to enter the country. He was free on bond, and officials wanted to know if he was still using his false identity for employment. That was when they discovered him working as a cook in Shirokiya, Hino said.
He said the government made three separate requests of Tenryoan for a list of its employees, and each time the worker's name was not on the list. So Hino said he subpoenaed the company's bank records, and that was where he discovered the company's dual payroll system.
The alien who was working as cook at Shirokiya is facing deportation proceedings. The location of the other two illegal workers is unknown, Hino said.