Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chuy's Goes Down

Illegals actually arrested. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unusually and inexplicably arrested 40 illegal aliens at Chuy's Mesquite Grill, unlike the hundreds of illegal aliens who work at Chipotle's who were allowed to remain free and unmolested.

PHOENIX - The owners of a restaurant chain with locations in Arizona and California have been indicted on suspicion of hiring illegal immigrants, tax evasion, and conspiracy.

Federal agents raided 15 Chuy's Mesquite Broiler restaurants on Wednesday in both states and served 20 search warrants.

Arizona locations included 7th Street and Greenway, 32nd Street and Indian School and Cave Creek Road and Cactus.

Immigration Customs Enforcement spokesman Vincent Picard says they detained about 40 suspected illegal immigrants who were working at the restaurants.

The father and son owners of the chain of about 20 restaurants and a company accountant were arrested on a 19-count indictment.

The owners were identified as 58-year-old Mark Evenson of Paradise Valley and his son, 39-year-old Christopher Evenson of Oro Valley. The accountant was identified as Diane Strehlow.

"For nearly two years, these defendants are alleged to have knowingly dodged hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes in order to maintain an illegal workforce," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

"Kept about $400,000 from the federal government in tax revenue through the payment scheme that they engineered," said Matthew Allen, ICE Special Agent in Charge. "We believe that our investigation will document that the owners of Chuy's had full knowledge that they were employing illegal aliens."

According to the indictment, the Evensons' hired illegal immigrants for company's kitchen operations. Those who were authorized to work in the U.S. were hired as servers or in other restaurant jobs.

It's alleged that the illegal workers were paid off the books with no taxes withheld or reported to the I.R.S. Authorized workers received payment using normal payroll.

Everyone involved is facing decades in prison and possibly millions of dollars in fines.

Obviously the big difference is that Chipotle hired illegals but did not pay them under the table. Chuy's paid them under the table. However, both knew the people they were hiring were illegal. but no illegals were arrested at Chipotle. And there were no arrests of Chipotle executives. Another difference is that Chipotle's is publicly traded and Chuy's was privately owned. Easier to arrest non-publicly traded company executives, especially since the Chuy's executives were in the weeds making the decision to hire and pay under the table the illegals, while the executives at Chipotle just told their restaurant and regional managers to keep labor costs down. The lower level executives were forced into the pattern of hiring illegals. The executives at Chipotle have then insulated themselves from criminal prosecution. All the illegal activity was committed by others and there is no smoking gun ordering them to hire illegals, just the threat that if they exceeded their labor costs they would loose their jobs. Quite clever, but the usual pattern, Wal Mart undoubted used that strategy when dealing with their janitorial contractors. They got caught, but no one went to prison.

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