News: Illegal worker scheme alleged -USA

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Melanie Orhant (
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 08:30:34 -0500

Illegal worker scheme alleged
By Denny Walsh
The Sacramento Bee, December 17, 1998

In a case billed as illustrative of a widespread practice in California, a
Panamanian national will appear in federal court today on a charge that he
has been harboring undocumented Mexican immigrants who work in his south
Sacramento restaurant.

According to a criminal information filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin
Taylor on Wednesday, Enrique Ernesto Saturno-Tunon employed persons at
Adalberto's Mexican Food Restaurant on Florin Road throughout the year
knowing they were in the country illegally.

The document also charges Saturno-Tunon, 26, with housing his illegal
employees in a Mack Road apartment and a 65th Avenue residence.

Other court papers contain far more serious accusations that Saturno-Tunon
-- who reportedly uses the alias Jimmy Marin -- recruits his employees in a
Mexican village, arranges for them to be smuggled into the United States,
and works them long hours for substandard wages paid in cash.

All of those elements are "typical of many restaurants in California,"
according to a search warrant affidavit of U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Special Agent Barbara Morihara.

Restaurant owners use unreported cash receipts to pay illegal workers and
cover their tracks by under-reporting what they pay for goods and paying
vendors in cash with unreported receipts, Morihara said in the affidavit.

Saturno-Tunon was arrested Dec. 2 by INS agents who said he falsely claimed
to be a U.S. citizen.

When confronted with information about his true name and immigration
status, he admitted that he was born in Panama and has been in this country
illegally for six years, according to court documents.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd ordered him held without bail as a
flight risk.

During searches Dec. 2, two undocumented Mexicans were found at the
restaurant and four at the 65th Avenue address.

Saturno-Tunon's attorney, Robert McCann, could not be reached for comment
late Wednesday.

Adalberto's, which opened in June 1997, is a 24-hour fast-food operation
with counter and drive-through service.

The INS investigation was triggered by an individual contacting the agency
in February. The informant was motivated by what is described in Morihara's
affidavit as Saturno-Tunon's "abusive treatment" of his employees.

The affidavit says the subsequent investigation, including the informant's
cooperation, disclosed these details:

Saturno-Tunon's workers were recruited from Santo Domingo, San Luis Potosi,
Mexico. He and a partner would "go to that town and distribute Adalberto's
T-shirts and caps to prospective workers and promise them employment."

The pair "helped arrange to have the aliens transported across the Arizona
border, knowing they were illegal and unauthorized to work."

The undocumented workers were paid $3 an hour in cash and worked generally
10 hours a day up to seven days a week. They were housed in locations
leased or owned by Saturno-Tunon and his partner and were transported to
and from work.

According to the affidavit, Saturno-Tunon offers workers $4 an hour if they
secure fake permanent resident and Social Security cards. Saturno-Tunon
told them he bought a birth certificate showing he was born in San Diego.

An undercover INS operative who went to work at Adalberto's was told by
Saturno-Tunon's partner that false documents could be purchased in Los
Angeles or San Francisco. The operative was paid in cash with the
understanding there would be no deductions.

The operative reported witnessing Saturno-Tunon's brother, Roberto
Stanziola, taking cash from the restaurant's counter register and stuffing
it in his pockets without counting it.

Stanziola is a student legally in the United States but, according to
Morihara in her affidavit, "it appears that he is illegally employed at

The affidavit further says that physical surveillance and records of the
state Employment Development Department combined to document that
Saturno-Tunon under-reports the number of people working at Adalberto's.

Melanie Orhant

Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590

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