NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Multiple people were charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers in an indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Mark Wildasin.
The nine-count federal indictment alleges four people who own and operate various restaurants in Middle Tennessee participated in a scheme to harbor undocumented workers.
Documents stated Zhongzhi “Tommy” Zhuo, 46, Jianping “Alan” Zhuo, 37, and Xiaofen “Joyce” Zhuo, 38, all of Hendersonville, Tennessee; and Jianhua “Jason” Zhuo, 35, and Lili Wu, 32, both of Gallatin, Tennessee, provided financial support through employment at the restaurants, and provided housing and transportation.
Residential properties owned or leased by one or more of the accused were used to house the undocumented workers, according to the indictment.
“There was always, always a bunch of cars,” said Judy Mcferren, who lives near the Gallatin home that was raided. “At least six or eight cars, a couple of motorcycles, but there was a lot of people in and out of that house.”
The restaurants identified in the indictment include locations in Hendersonville, Goodlettsville, Whitehouse, Clarksville, Mount Juliet, Spring Hill, and Gallatin, Tennessee.
Additional allegations stated that the defendants also failed to withhold and pay employment taxes to the IRS, held separate accounting books for payments to undocumented workers made outside of the regular payroll system, and provided understated wages to tax preparation businesses that prepared and filed tax forms.
Another allegation in the indictment states the employers communicated with and paid a broker to find and deliver undocumented workers to work at the restaurants.
“The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation in which the United States seeks to forfeit four residences involved in the commission of the offenses, bank accounts, and a money judgment representing the amount of the proceeds of the crimes,” a release from the U.S. Attorney reads.
In September 2020, News 2 reported agents surrounded a home on Peninsula Drive in Gallatin and removed a number of evidence boxes from the residence.
Homeland Security investigators, as well as agents with the TBI and officers with the Gallatin Police Department, were at the Peninsula Drive home for hours.
If convicted, the charges carry maximum penalties between five and 20 years in prison.