An Illinois couple has been indicted in federal court on charges that include harboring illegal immigrants at a restaurant they operate in northwestern Indiana.
Michael McClellan, 38, and Tina McClellan, 36, own and operate the Paragon Restaurant in Schererville and the T&M Daycare in Calumet City, Ill. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday accuses them of a count of harboring illegal aliens, three counts of mail fraud, and a charge of making money transactions in criminally derived property, according to a statement from David Capp, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.
A grand jury returned the indictment on Oct. 17. It alleges that from February 2009 to about March 2010, Michael McClellan harbored illegal aliens at the Paragon Restaurant and at a home he owned behind the restaurant. He also is accused of submitting false quarterly reports that failed to account for restaurant employees he had paid in cash in a scheme to defraud the Indiana Department of Workforce Development out of unemployment insurance tax contributions, the statement from Capp’s office said.
The indictment also alleges that from 2006 through 2010, the McClellans, as owners of the T&M Daycare, provided false information to the state of Illinois claiming certain children had attended the daycare, when they had not, causing reimbursements of at least $200,000 from the state of Illinois and Healthy Start program. The McClellans used the criminally derived funds to purchase the home located behind the Paragon Restaurant, according to the statement.
“Homeland Security Investigations holds employers accountable when they knowingly hire an illegal alien workforce to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Our goal is to level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago.
The McClellans made an initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Hammond before Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry. Their formal arraignment is scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 12.