PORTLAND – The owners of a Westbrook restaurant were convicted Monday of a series of immigration crimes, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
Guillermo Fuentes, 37, of Westbrook, and Hector Fuentes, 39, of Waterville, were convicted following an eight-day jury trial in U.S. District Court in Portland of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit and aiding and abetting document fraud.
According to a press release, court records reveal that the charges relate to hiring and employment practices at three Mexican restaurants in Maine between 2006 and 2011: The Fajita Grill in Westbrook, owned by Guillermo Fuentes; and the Cancun Mexican Restaurant in Waterville and the Cancun Mexican Restaurant II in Biddeford, both of which are owned by Hector Fuentes. The document fraud charges arose out of the Fuentes brothers’ efforts to assist undocumented alien employees obtain false Permanent Resident Cards (known as a “green cards”) and Social Security cards.
Numerous former employees, mostly undocumented aliens from Mexico and Guatemala, testified during the trial that the Fuentes brothers hired them to work at the restaurants and harbored them at residences in Maine. The employees worked between six and seven days per week, often from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. or later with only one two-hour break. Kitchen staff testified that the defendants paid them, on average, between $350 and $500 per week, in cash. Waiters did not get paid but were allowed to keep their tips.
The defendants face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count and forfeiture of the gross proceeds of the violations. They will be sentenced after the completion of pre-sentence investigation reports by the United States Probation Office.