Originally published Aug. 4, 2011
By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced on Tuesday that the owners of the two Sawa Sushi Asian restaurants, one located in Eatontown and the other in Long Branch, admitted to failing to pay payroll taxes to the IRS and harboring and sheltering illegal aliens.
Mou Chor Tung, also known as “Kenny Tung,” 44, of Colts Neck, is the owner and manager of the Eatontown location. Sin Ching Chang, also known as “Alton Chang,” 35, of Long Branch is the manager of the Pier Village restaurant.
Fishman stated that both men each pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to collect, truthfully account for, and pay over payroll taxes to the IRS. Tung also pleaded guilty to one count of harboring unlawful aliens, who he employed at his Eatontown restaurant.
Several months ago federal authorities from various agencies conducted a raid on the Sawa location in Pier Village. Many of the tenants and other retail establishments in the complex were not told what was happening and were concerned.
Fishman said Tung and Chang appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Clair C. Cecchi on Tuesday and admitted that they did not pay the IRS withholdings from restaurants’ employees for Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes, commonly known as “payroll taxes.” In the tax years 2007 through 2010, Tung did not collect from his Eatontown employees and pay those taxes, which amounted to approximately $263,523. Chang failed to collect payroll taxes for 2007 from his Long Branch employees totaling about $57,048 for the IRS.
As owner of the Eatontown location, Tung was responsible to verify the identities and employment eligibility of all his workers. However, Fishman stated that Tung provided individuals unlawfully in the United States with false Social Security numbers, which were issued to other individuals.
Court records show that Tung also purchased two properties in Long Branch, 264 Hamilton Avenue and 136 Lippincott Avenue, where he housed these illegal alien workers. He also provided transportation between the homes and the Eatontown restaurant in a company vehicle.
Fishman stated that the tax charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and $10,000 fine. Harboring carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Both men are scheduled for a November 9 sentencing.
Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit, with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, the Social Security Administration, all played a part in the investigation.
Fishman did not provide any details on the current status of the illegal alien workers.