Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Co-owner of Overland Park hotel sentenced to prison for employing undocumented workers

KANSAS CITY, KAN. - The co-owner of an Overland Park hotel was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in federal prison for employing undocumented workers, who were paid less than other employees, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

She also agreed to forfeit her interest two hotels and funds derived from the crime.

Rhonda R. Bridge, 42, and her husband, Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 53, both of Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain.

In their pleas, they admitted employing undocumented workers at two hotels they owned: A Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th in Overland Park, and a Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo. Chaudary and Bridge lowered their hotels’ operating costs and put themselves at a competitive advantage by not paying Social Security, Workers Compensation and unemployment insurance for the undocumented workers.

According to court records, the investigation began in December 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) received information that the owners of the hotels were employing foreign nationals who not lawfully present in the United States.

In June 2012, an undercover agent posing as an undocumented worker got a job at the Overland Park Hotel. He was hired even though he told his employers he was not authorized to work in the United States.

In 2011 and 2012 the defendants filed false and fraudulent Quarterly Wage Reports and Unemployment Tax Returns with the Kansas Department of Labor in which they under-reported the number of employees at the Overland Park hotel, the amount of total wages paid and the amount of unemployment taxes due.

Bridge is the third person to be sentenced in the case.

Judith Vanzant, a hotel manager, and Syed Naqvi, a Pakistani native who worked as a desk clerk, already were sentenced. Co-defendant Munir Ahmad Chaudary is awaiting sentencing.

Grissom commended Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR), the Overland Park Police Department, the U.S. Department of Labor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.