NASHVILLE – Quanwei Shi, 31, of Clarksville, Tennessee, was sentenced Friday to 20 months in federal prison for conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens; harboring illegal aliens; money laundering; tax evasion; and employment tax fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Shi, the majority owner of the New China Buffett & Grill (NCBG) in Clarksville, and co-owner Chongqiang Chen, 30, also of Clarksville, were arrested in April 2020, after a 14-count indictment charged them in a scheme to harbor undocumented workers and to defeat the tax laws of the United States. Shi pleaded guilty in March.
According to court documents, between 2017 and April 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.
In addition to harboring the undocumented workers, Shi underreported gross receipts on NCBG’s corporate tax returns for tax years 2017 through 2019, and failed to collect, account for, and pay over employment taxes for an overall tax loss of $440,941.
U.S. District Judge Eli J. Richardson also ordered the forfeiture of Shi’s house in Clarksville and two vehicles and ordered restitution in the amount of $417,149.
Chongqiang Chen pleaded guilty in July and will be sentenced on February 25, 2022.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations; the IRS-Criminal Investigation; the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Tennessee Bureau of Workers Compensation; the Clarksville Police Department; and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Beth Myers and Robert Levine are prosecuting the case.
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