Restaurant Owner Found Guilty of Harboring Illegal Aliens

After an investigation lead by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), George Anagnostou of Maryland, was sentenced on October 28 to four months in prison and another four months on house arrest with electronic monitoring. Anagnostou also faces two years of supervised release after serving his sentence. His charges consisted of harboring at least 24 illegal workers of the Timbuktu and By the Docks restaurants. As a part of his sentencing, Anagnostou was forced to give up his motorcycle, pay a sum of $378,386.21 from five different bank accounts, give up $99,890 from the restaurant and his house, as well as an additional pay $256,696.67 at his court hearing.

From 2000 to 2005, Anagnostou was in charge of hiring employees for both Timbuktu and By the Docks restaurants. Other than collecting two documents, Anagnostou never made any other efforts to verify the authority of an individual to work in the United States, like using the required Employment Eligibility Verification forms (I-9s). Even when informed that many of his applicants had presented him with falsified forms, he insisted that his employees stop asking questions and accept the documents. In addition, the Social Security Administration began notifying Anagnostou that the Social Security numbers he was supplying for his employees did not match up in the database but he still did nothing to validate the legitimacy of his workers.

Anagnostou benefited financially from the illegal workers employment at the restaurants because he deducted their rental payments from their overtime wages due, paid them in cash preventing him from being subject to tax liability and he didn’t claim the rental property on his income taxes.