In 2012, the now-former owner of popular Richmond district restaurants Hong Kong Lounges I and II, Ming Lian Zhou, was ordered to pay 48 workers more than $90,000 in unpaid back wages. At roughly this time last year, we learned and he had very much not done so, although he did submit forms to the US Department of Labor, who investigated the initial misdeeds, that stated he had correctly distributed the back wages.
Although the Labor Department forced Zhou to turn over the money owed to them, in turn paying that money to the unpaid workers, Zhou forced those workers to cash the government checks and hand the lucre back over to him, penalizing and/or firing those who did not obey.
Now he's pleaded guilty to a felony charge of concealing a material fact from a government agency, the Chronicle reports, entering his plea before US District Judge Richard Seeborg.
Zhou faces as many as 25 years in prison for the felony and will be sentenced on January 17.
This case is happening just as we heard of some other allegations against another Richmond restaurateur, the owner of Burma Superstar. A class-action suit by current and former employees has been filed in the East Bay, but the restaurant is denying that the suit has any merit.