According to the office of Rod J. Rosenstein, US Attorney for the District of Maryland, George Anagnostou has pleaded guilty to harboring twenty-four illegal aliens who were employed at Timbuktu restaurant in Hanover, Maryland and By the Docks restaurant in Middle River, Maryland. Also participating in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge William Winter of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.
“Employers who take advantage of illegal labor to gain a competitive advantage for their own profit should take note of today’s guilty plea,” said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Baltimore. “ICE is committed to investigating companies who engage in illegal employment schemes and targeting the profits that motivate them.”
According to the announcement, Anagnostou did not prepare a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for several employees. When he received “no-match” letters from the Social Security Administration, he made no effort to investigate further and continued to employ those workers identified.
Anagnostou also provided housing to several of the illegal alien employees and in many cases he “deducted rental payments from the overtime owed to the illegal alien employees, many of who regularly worked up to 80 hours a week and were routinely paid in cash to avoid their tax liability. Anagnostou did not claim the rental income on his tax returns, nor did he withhold FICA taxes from these overtime payments, as he was legally required to do.”
In addition to facing up to ten years in prison, “Anagnostou is required to forfeit $378,386.21 from five bank accounts; $99,890 seized from the restaurants and Anagnostou’s home on March 11, 2010; an additional $256,696.67, also believed to be proceeds of the crime and payable by check to Immigration and Customs Enforcement upon sentencing; and a 2009 Harley Davidson.”
Vision Payroll recommends that employers familiarize themselves with Form I-9 and its requirements so that they may be prepared and filed for each new hire. Also, employers may not ignore obviously fake or fraudulent identification documentation and must make an effort to verify social security numbers that have been reported as mismatched.