A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted the general manager of a La Puente garment factory on charges of offering to pay bribes to an investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor in exchange for closing a probe into wage violations.
Howard Quoc Trinh, 41, of Arcadia, the manager of Seven-Bros Enterprises, is accused of bribery of a public official, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment charges Trinh with offering to pay $10,000 to the Labor Department investigator, alleging that he offered the bribe last month to secure the release of a hold known as a “Hot Goods” objection that had been placed on a shipment.
As part of the alleged bribery scheme, Trinh actually paid the investigator $3,000, according to a criminal complaint previously filed in the case.
According to the affidavit in support of that complaint, the investigator was probing Seven-Bros for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets standards for minimum wage and overtime pay.
The investigation into wage violations covered a period from May 2012 through last month, and found that Seven-Bros owed about $100,000 to compensate employees for FLSA violations over that period, prosecutors said.
According to the affidavit, the investigator returned to Seven-Bros on March 18, at which time Trinh said he did not owe his employees any back wages and that he wanted to “take care” of the investigator.
In response to Trinh’s statements, the Labor Department’s Office of Investigator General initiated an investigation and outfitted the investigator with recording equipment, court papers show.
During a March 18 recorded meeting, Trinh allegedly offered the investigator $10,000 to close out the investigation without finding any violations and to lift the Hot Goods objection. The next day, during another recorded meeting, Trinh gave the investigator an initial payment of $3,000 in a manila envelope, according to the affidavit.
The criminal complaint was filed on March 20, and Trinh was arrested by OIG special agents. At his initial court appearance, Trinh was ordered released on a $200,000 bond and ordered to appear for arraignment on April 17.
If convicted of the bribery count, Trinh faces up to 15 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
— City News Service
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