MOBILE, AL – Former stakeholders of the China Super Buffet in Mobile, Alabama, were sentenced for harboring aliens who were illegally employed at their restaurant and subjected to hefty forfeiture orders.

Zheng Kong Zheng, 57, of Mobile, was sentenced on the charge of harboring aliens to two years’ probation, with the first six months on home confinement with electronic monitoring. Zheng was also ordered to forfeit over $500,000 and five separate residential properties, all obtained with illegal proceeds from harboring aliens.

De Yun Wang, 54, a Chinese national, was sentenced to one year probation on the charge of harboring aliens. She was also ordered to forfeit over $500,000 and five residential properties obtained with illegal proceeds from harboring aliens.

Kong Mei Zheng, 55, a Chinese national, sentenced for harboring aliens to one year probation, ordered to forfeit over $200,000 and a residential property obtained with illegal proceeds from harboring aliens.
According to court documents, Zheng Kong Zheng, and his sister, Kong Mei Zheng, owned and operated the China Super Buffet in Mobile until late 2019. Since at least 2014, the restaurant unlawfully employed aliens and housed them at a harboring residence owned by Zheng Kong Zheng and De Yun Wang near the restaurant in Mobile. The utilities and taxes were paid from restaurant bank accounts and the illegal workers resided there free of charge while they worked at the restaurant.

The restaurant operated for several years by transporting illegal workers in a passenger van between the harboring residence and the restaurant. The restaurant concealed the illegal employment practice and the presence of the illegal workers by paying them in cash. Their earnings were not reported to the Alabama Department of Labor while lawful workers’ wages were reported.

In September 2019, Kong Mei Zheng transferred her interest in the restaurant to her brother, Zheng Guo Zheng, who became the sole owner. Despite the ownership change, the unlawful harboring and employment of aliens continued. Zheng Guo Zheng’s wife, Yan Jiao Zhuo, helped manage the restaurant after her husband became the new owner and operator. While Zheng Guo Zheng was the owner, the restaurant applied for funding under Small Business Administration programs designed to assist businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant’s applications contained misrepresentations, including the omission of its illegal employees. The restaurant received a total of $445,307 in SBA loans based on the false information it had provided in its applications.

Co-defendants Zheng Guo Zheng and Yan Jiao Zhuo were previously sentenced in November2022. Zheng Guo Zheng, a 67-year-old Chinese national, was sentenced to 5 years’ probation for illegal harboring of aliens, ordered to forfeit over $15,000 in illegal proceeds, the passenger van used to transport workers, fined $40,000, and ordered to pay full restitution of $445,307 to the Small Business Administration. In July 2022, Yan Jiao Zhuo, a 58-year-old Chinese national was sentenced to time-served for unlawful employment of aliens.

In total, the defendants entered into plea agreements with the United States in which they agreed to forfeit over $1.5 million in assets, including cash and the estimated value of the residences constituting illegal proceeds stemming from their convictions for harboring and the restaurant’s illegal labor practices.

U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello of the Southern District of Alabama made the announcement.

Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations, the U.S. Small Business Administration – Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sinan Kalayoglu, Kasee S. Heisterhagen, and Justin D. Kopf prosecutedthe case on behalf of the United States.