More than $1 million in owed wages will be paid back to 56 Bay Area restaurant workers after owners of Mango Garden restaurants in Fremont, San Jose and San Mateo were sentenced for fraud and conspiracy to commit wage theft, authorities said.
Workers in the restaurants labored for 11 to 12 hours a day, six days a week, for as little as $2 per hour, were denied overtime and medical treatment, and had tips stolen by management, according to a statement from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office released Thursday.
The district attorney’s office announced Thursday it had seized $1.7 million in assets from the owners of the Malaysian-Chinese restaurants as restitution and to help pay fines.
Workers of the restaurants lived in owner-supplied housing and were bussed to and from work, authorities said. “As many as 15 workers would be living in a two-bedroom apartment that was sparsely furnished with mattresses on the ground,” the statement said.
In late 2018, Hai Jie Chen, one of the owners, was convicted of felony violations of conspiring to commit wage theft, and tax and insurance fraud. Another owner, Hak Chun Ng, was convicted of a misdemeanor violation for the failure to pay minimum wage.
This week, both owners were sentenced and placed on probation, ordered to perform community service, and required to pay $1,153,013 in criminal restitution to the victims, as well as an additional $550,000 dollars in fines assessed by the Labor Commissioner’s office.
“Every commercial enterprise operating in Alameda County must adhere to the laws designed to protect the rights of workers,” District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in the statement.
Authorities prosecuted the owners for the theft of $1,006,455 in wages, $113,326 in employment tax fraud, $86,694 in insurance premium fraud, and $59,864 in sales tax fraud. Bank accounts, personal residences and business locations belonging to the owners were all seized and are being liquidated to help pay back fines and restitution.
Separately, authorities said the Labor Commissioner’s Office issued wage and civil penalty citations totaling more than $1.8 million, and a portion of the assets will be used to pay those penalties.
The Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus originally referred the case to local authorities and represented several workers who cooperated in the investigation, the district attorney’s office said.
The referral led to a joint investigation conducted by the Worker Protection Division of the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, the California Department of Industrial Relations, the California Department of Insurance, the California Employment and Development Department and the State Franchise Tax Board.
Restaurant owners ordered to pay more than million in back pay to workers