The Hong Kong Lounge in the Richmond District, Sept. 24, 2015 (Kevin Kelleher/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Restaurant owner indicted for threatening employees, failing to pay them overtime

The co-owner of two San Francisco dim sum restaurants allegedly swindled his employees out of nearly $100,000 in overtime pay, according to a federal indictment.

The alleged crimes involve Ming Lian Zhou, one of the owners of the two restaurants in question.

Zhou did not return a request for comment but an employee who picked up the phone at Hong Kong Lounge I said Zhou is no longer an owner of either restaurant. He is set to be arraigned Thursday.

When the Department of Labor found in 2012 that Hong Kong Lounge I and II had underpaid nearly 50 employees more than $90,000, the co-owner was told to pay his employees what they were owed.

Zhou then allegedly told his employees to tell federal officials they had been paid. Zhou then lied to the Department of Labor too.

When the Department of Labor found out about Zhou’s alleged lies in 2013, they directed him to hand over the back pay directly to the department who would then give it to his employees.

Zhou complied but then allegedly made his employees cash the checks and give him the money back. Employees who did not hand back the pay were punished with reduced hours and changed schedules, according to the indictment.

Zhou faces up to 25 years if convicted of concealing material facts from the government and interfering with commerce by threats.

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