KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro couple and a third person face federal charges that they knowingly hired undocumented immigrants to work at their hotels and then paid them less than minimum wage, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, each face one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for personal gain, five counts of counts of harboring undocumented immigrants for personal gain and four counts of wire fraud in connection to the case.
The couple owns two Clarion hotels -- one near KCI, and another in Overland Park.
A third man, Syed Naqvy, 34, faces one charge of making a false statement to the Department of Homeland Security and one count of failing to deport from the U.S. as ordered. Prosecutors say that Naqvy worked as a clerk at one of the couple's hotels.
Prosecutors allege that Chaudary and Bridge hired a number of illegal immigrants - each of whom lacked the necessary paperwork --- to work at their hotels, and that the couple paid them less than minimum wage.
Authorities say that acting on a December, 2011, tip from an anonymous source, an undercover agent took a job as a housekeeper at the Overland Park hotel in June of this year. The agent made it clear that he was there illegally and without any papers, but was hired anyway. According to authorities, the agent was told by Chaudary that he would be paid less than minimum wage because no taxes were being withheld from his paycheck.
Government officials say that they found five illegal immigrants working at the hotels on Tuesday. The workers were taken in for questioning, but were not arrested and are being treated as victims in this case. Authorities say that if the undocumented workers have no other legal issues, they may qualify for deferred action status which would allow them to stay in the U.S.
If convicted, Chaudary and Bridge could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The government is also seeking to have the couple forfeit their hotels, which the government says are worth a combined $5-6 million.