One of two alleged co-conspirators accused in a scheme to defraud state authorities and gain licenses for garment shops with bad track records went before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Monday and pleaded not guilty to dozens of felony charges.

The case was filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who alleges that Jong Min Ju, 54, and Irene Park, 62, implemented a plan to pull licenses for shops with past labor violations, unpaid taxes or other issues, making those businesses ineligible to register on their own.

Ju and Park are each facing one count of conspiracy to file false documents and 35 counts of filing false documents. Ju is additionally charged with one more count of filing a false document, one count of identity theft and three counts of using false licenses.

Park, who was arrested last Thursday and held on $1.26 million bail, is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on April 5, when a date is scheduled to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ju, who allegedly paid individuals to take mandatory garment registration exams, posing as contractors, and supply false identities for licenses.

Park is accused of processing the applications, using the false names, from her job at the Korean American Garment Industry Association, a local trade group.

The fake licenses undermine the state’s ability to protect garment workers from wage theft and unsafe working conditions, according to Becerra and California Labor Commissioner’s Office.

The garment industry in Southern California has had one of the highest rates of minimum wage and overtime violations, according to a 2016 U.S. Department of Labor survey that found 85 percent of shops failing to meet standards.

Tens of thousands of workers, often female immigrants, are put to work in California sewing, pressing, trimming and packaging clothes for retail sale.

“With these criminal charges, we’re putting the underground garment shop industry on notice,” Becerra said. “Our office is here to stop those who facilitate the exploitation of workers for a cheap buck. If we are to thrive as a state and nation, the American dream cannot be just a dream for workers striving to make an honest living.”

A joint investigation launched in 2015 by the California Department of Justice’s Worker Rights and Fair Labor Bureau and the California Labor Commissioner’s Criminal Investigation Unit resulted in the criminal charges.

“Sweatshop operators who use fraud to game the system commit crimes that hurt law-abiding competitors and undermine the entire purpose of garment licensing, which is to verify that employers in the industry are honest businesses who know and respect California labor laws,” said California Labor Secretary Julie Su. “Each felony charge from this joint investigation proves that we will use our resources to crack down on schemes that provide unjust economic advantages over businesses owners who play by the rules and we will do everything in our power to clean up the industry.”

Anyone with information about Ju’s whereabouts was asked to contact the California Labor Commissioner’s Criminal Investigation Unit at (818) 901-5305.

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