Saigon Grill owners face charges

December 3, 2008 5:29:12 PM PST
The owners of the popular Saigon Grill restaurants turned themselves in Wednesday morning to face a menu of charges after authorities learned they cheated their 36 delivery workers of their wages. Simon Nget and his wife, Michelle, surrendered to face hundreds of counts of charges related to the illegal operation of their restaurants.

They were charged with:

  • 151 counts of falsifying business records,
  • 45 counts of tampering with physical evidence,
  • 46 counts of offering false instrument for filing,
  • 11 counts of failure to pay wages,
  • 127 counts of failure to keep records, and
  • 16 counts of receipt of kickback wages.

    Nget, a Cambodian refugee who built his business from scratch, and his wife came under the scrutiny of the state Attorney General's Office after a federal judge awarded a whopping $4.6 million in back pay and damages to their 36 delivery workers, many of them illegal immigrants.

    Their popular Vietnamese-cuisine restaurant chain paid their delivery workers, immigrants from Fujian Province in China who worked up to 13-hour shifts six or seven days a week, as little as $1.60 an hour.

    The workers were abruptly fired in March 2007 when they began to organize.

    The restaurants are on Amsterdam Avenue at 90th Street and University Place at 12th Street, but the federal case also involved deliveries made for a Saigon Grill on Second Avenue at 88th Street, which closed in July 2006.

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