The manager of a La Puente garment factory faces a possible decades-long federal prison sentence for 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, the manager of Seven-Bros Enterprises, was convicted late Tuesday by a federal jury after less than an hour of deliberations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The Los Angeles jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of bribery after prosecutors presented evidence that Trinh offered to pay $10,000 in bribes — and actually paid $3,000 — to a Labor Department investigator.
As part of the bribery scheme, Trinh promised to pay the balance when the investigation was closed.
“Companies and their managers victimizing their own employees through wage violations cannot perpetuate their conduct through bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This jury verdict strikes a blow against both corruption and the exploitation of workers.”
Trinh, 42, of Arcadia, faces up to 30 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder, who presided over the trial, has yet to schedule a sentencing date.
Trinh offered the bribe to secure the release of a hold known as a “hot goods” objection that had been placed on a shipment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The investigator was probing Seven-Bros for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets standards for minimum wage and overtime pay. The probe found that Seven-Bros owed about $100,000 to compensate employees for FLSA violations.
When the investigator returned to Seven-Bros, Trinh said he did not owe his employees any back wages, offering to “take care” of the investigator, according to federal prosecutors.
In response to Trinh’s statements, the Labor Department’s Office of Investigator General initiated an investigation and outfitted the investigator with recording equipment.
During a March 18, 2015, recorded meeting, Trinh offered the investigator $10,000 to close out the investigation without finding any violations and to lift the hold. The next day, during another recorded meeting, Trinh gave the investigator an initial payment of $3,000 in a manila envelope, according to evidence presented at trial.
—City News Service
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