A Clarksville restaurant owner on Tuesday was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison on a host of charges: conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, harboring illegal aliens, money laundering, tax evasion, and employment tax fraud.

Quanwei Shi, who owns the New China Buffet and Grill (NCBG), was arrested in April 2020 and indicted on 14 charges, stemming from an investigation into the restaurant.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the owner took in undocumented workers and allowed them to work at the NCBG in a scheme that stretched from 2017 to 2019:

“Shi conspired to conceal and harbor illegal aliens from China and Guatemala, profiting from their employment at NCBG. The undocumented workers were not required to complete any forms related to their immigration status and were paid in cash, outside the regular payroll system. The undocumented workers lived with Shi at his residence on D Street in Clarksville and were transported to NCBG and back daily. Shi assigned the workers to work in the kitchen where they would not be able to interact with the patrons of the restaurant,” the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Middle District of Tennessee said.

Furthermore, Shi actively worked to bypass federal tax laws and underreported gross receipts on the restaurant’s corporate tax returns for multiple years. He also did not pay unemployment taxes, totaling more than $400,000.

In addition to Shi’s prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Eli J. Richardson ordered the owner to forfeit his house and two vehicles, while also paying $417,149 in restitution.

Chongqiang Chen, a co-owner of NCBG who was arrested at the same time, has also pleaded guilty to multiple counts. He will be sentenced in early 2022.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to cooperreports@gmail.com.
Photo “Flaming Wok” by Kelly B. CC BY 2.0.