FARGO — A Fargo restaurant owner accused of harboring two people in the U.S. illegally and providing off-the-books employment to them is set to plead guilty to federal charges.
Federal authorities allege Jose Ramon Gutierrez, owner of Mango's Mexican and American Grill, employed two citizens of Mexico as cooks at his restaurant at 2901 Main Ave. between May 1, 2018, and Jan. 31, 2019.
Gutierrez was aware the two cooks were not authorized to work in the U.S. and had entered the country illegally, but consciously disregarded facts pointing toward this, according to documents filed Monday, Oct. 21, in U.S. District Court in North Dakota.
Authorities said in documents that Gutierrez paid the Mexican nationals in cash and kept them off the restaurant's payroll, resulting in a financial gain for him. As a result of their employment, the two cooks were able to continue living in the U.S. and avoid detection, documents said.
Gutierrez on Monday entered an agreement to plead guilty to charges in exchange for a lighter sentence. The maximum penalty for harboring and employing people who are in the U.S. illegally is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Gutierrez would face a sentence of two years probation and a fine of $15,000 under the plea agreement.
The agreement is not final and would not come into effect until it's approved by a judge. A future court date was not yet listed on the U.S. courts website as of Monday night.