Immigration officials tossed the owner of an upscale San Diego restaurant out of the crepe pan and into the fire as they prosecute him for allegedly hiring illegal immigrants, hoping to make an example of him to deter other employers.
Michel Malecot has pleaded not guilty to the charges involving his restaurant, the French Gourmet, which a Los Angeles Times report notes is known “for dishing out the tasty baguettes, pastries and wedding cakes that have made his French Gourmet restaurant a fixture for 31 years.”
For 15 of those years, federal officials alleged when they raided the restaurant, some of the restaurant’s pastry chefs, bakers, and cake decorators had included illegal immigrant workers from Mexico, The Times reported.
And the 52-year-old chef, who was indicted last month on 12 felony counts of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, has pleaded not guilty.
The indictment reflects a different tack for a federal crackdown on hiring illegal immigrants, the Times reports. Instead of sweeping for undocumented workers, the government now is trying to make examples of employers who knowingly hire them, and even seeking to seize businesses such as Malecot’s restaurant.
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