Although unusual, it does happen. In Akron, Ohio, the owner of a restaurant and his wife were convicted and sentenced to jail time for hiring undocumented workers, paying them less than minimum wage and failing to pay them overtime. The allegations also including paying workers in cash, not placing them on payroll records, leasing housing for them and helping the workers obtain fraudulent work documentation. According to Cleveland.com, Miguel Castro, 46, had a controlling interest in 7 Mexican restaurants in the Akron area, while his wife, Monica, was a part owner. In December, 2014, they plead guilty to “conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers, aiding and abetting harboring undocumented workers, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.” According to the story, “The couple opened their first restaurant around 2000. They then proceeded to hire undocumented workers who were in the United States illegally. They paid the workers low wages, sometimes only in tips, and withheld overtime pay. They also paid workers in cash and excluded them from payrolls in order to escape detection from authorities.” Mr. Castro was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, while Mrs. Castro received three months in prison. They also agreed to forfeit $100,000. Three restaurant managers, Cesar Castro, Aldo Castro and Gustavo Torres also pled guilty as a result of their involvement in the scheme, but have not yet been sentenced.

Practice pointer. This case is another reminder that a number of employment laws carry criminal provisions, including Immigration, FLSA, IRS and OSHA. When there are serious, intentional violations, the government may consider pursuing criminal charges, with punishment including jail time, fines and forfeitures.