A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Queens Employers For Failing To Pay Their Workers

Queens Restaurant Owners Did Not Pay Employees Wages For Weeks And Months

Schneiderman: Failing To Pay Wages Is A Crime And Lawbreakers Will Be Held Accountable

QUEENS - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest and arraignment of Hwan Kyun Kim and Jeong Sook Lee for failing to pay wages to several of their workers at a restaurant which they owned until earlier this year. The defendants were also charged with filing false quarterly state tax returns to avoid paying unemployment insurance.

"In New York State, failing to pay wages is a crime, and employers who break the law will be held accountable for their actions," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "These arrests send a clear message that my office will aggressively pursue employers who benefit from employees' labor but refuse to pay for work performed – it’s unconscionable and it’s illegal."

Hwan Kyun Kim, 62, and his wife, Jeong Sook Lee, 52, owned and operated a popular Korean restaurant called New York Ban Jeom (formerly called Sol Bawoo  Restaurant) located at 149-44 41st Avenue in Flushing, Queens. The investigation revealed, from July 2009 through September 2010, Kim and Lee failed to pay wages to various employees who worked at the restaurant. One employee, who was hired to be a chef, worked for three months and did not receive any wages at all. Another employee, a waitress, who had worked for the restaurant for several years did not receive pay for several weeks during the last year of her employment, totaling $4,000 in stolen wages.

Hwan Kyun Kim and Jeong Sook Lee were charged with four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and four counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, all "E" felonies, for creating and filing the false quarterly tax returns. Each count carries a maximum penalty of four years incarceration.

The defendants were also charged with four counts each of Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, an unclassified misdemeanor.

New York State's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. After 40 hours worked, employers are required to pay overtime at one and a half times an employee's rate of pay. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for reporting violations of the labor law.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

‪The investigation was conducted by Senior Investigator Brian Ford, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Michael Ward and Deputy Chief John McManus.

The case is being prosecuted by Labor Bureau Section Chief Felice Sontupe under the supervision of Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein and Executive Deputy Attorney General Janet Sabel.

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