You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maine

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Waterville Woman Sentenced to 15 Months on Immigration, Money Laundering and Tax Charges

Contact: Donald E. Clark
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257

Bangor, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Mei Ya
Zhang, 29, of Waterville, Maine, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court by Chief Judge
John A. Woodcock, Jr. to 15 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release for
harboring undocumented aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, money
laundering conspiracy, and conspiracy to file false employer's quarterly federal tax returns. She
was also ordered to pay more than $88,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS). Zhang pled guilty to the charges on June 5, 2013.

According to court records, between 2006 and 2011, the defendant was the manager of
the Twin Super Buffet, located on State Street in Brewer, Maine. In that capacity, she managed
a Chinese buffet restaurant that brought undocumented aliens into Maine to work, had them
work six days per week, eight to 10.5 hours per day, housed them in squalid conditions at a
residence on Elm Street in Brewer, transported them back and forth each day to work, paid them
under the table with cash generated illegally by the employment of undocumented aliens, and
filed numerous false quarterly employment tax returns in which the undocumented aliens were
not disclosed and employment taxes were not properly withheld or paid. The investigation
revealed that about half of the employees at the buffet over that period were undocumented, and
that the defendant’s activities concealed about $400,000 in wages and thwarted the collection of
about $88,000 in employment taxes.

In imposing sentence, Chief Judge Woodcock noted that a primary obligation of
citizenship is to obey the law. In this case, over a five year period, the defendant illegally hired
undocumented aliens and paid them in cash under the table even after telling federal agents that
she had stopped doing so. As a result, she unfairly competed with legitimate restaurants that
paid their employees fair wages and that properly withheld and remitted employment taxes to the

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
Homeland Security Investigations; IRS-Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Department of
Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering & Fraud Investigations; with
assistance from the Brewer Police Department.

Updated January 26, 2015