Sushi House operators plead guilty to harboring 'illegal aliens'

Federal prosecutors say couple let employees live rent-free

File photo
File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The operators of a popular sushi restaurant at the St. Johns Town Center have pleaded guilty to harboring people the U.S. Attorney's Office described as illegal aliens. 

Min Lin, 35, and He Ying Qiu, 46, who run the Sushi House, are married, and prosecutors said they were arrested after a tip from a concerned citizen.

Federal prosecutors said the couple harbored illegal aliens for the purpose of "commercial advantage and private financial gain."

They both face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. 

Federal agents said they discovered that employees were being transported in a van, driven by Qiu, between the Sushi House and two residences owned by Lin.

Federal agents found that the employees were living at the homes rent-free.

On Jan. 29, officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office stopped the van as it was coming from Sushi House, after it had closed for business that day. Qiu was driving the van and Lin was in the front seat passenger. Four passengers in the van turned out to be aliens who were illegally present in the United States, prosecutors said.

As part of a plea deal, the couple agreed to forfeit that residence and the van they used to transport the employees to-and-from work.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.