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Topeka Restaurant Owner indicted for traffiking

By James Carlson
The Capital-Journal
Published Thursday, January 29, 2009
An indicted Topeka restaurant owner said in a May interview with federal law enforcement authorities that several Kansas City-area Indian eateries are trafficking illegal workers.

Amarpreet Singh, owner of the Globe Restaurant in downtown Topeka, reportedly told officers that if he ever needed illegal workers, he could call most any Indian restaurant in the area and receive help.

"Singh stated that when he lets one of the other owners know that he needs help, he knows that he will be getting someone who is not authorized to work in the United States," read an investigative report of the interview.

The document was released this week in court papers surrounding Singh's attempt to throw out the interview because he wasn't properly given his Miranda rights.

Singh is charged in a federal indictment with three counts of concealing and harboring an illegal alien for commercial advantage. In April, Topeka police found a Globe employee dead in an apartment leased by Singh.

On May 8, Singh was arrested and questioned. Pedro Irigonegaray, Singh's attorney, said people should take into consideration the context of the interview. He said the interview's contents are the result of an "interpretation of what my client said in his poor English."

"That's what happens when people who aren't knowledgeable about the English language are interviewed without an interpreter," Irigonegaray said.

During the interview, Singh talked about the three people he is alleged to have harbored. He said one of them was delivered to Topeka by the owner of a Kansas City Indian restaurant, whom Singh had worked with during his time in the Kansas City area.

"Singh stated that it didn't matter if he called Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City or any other city, if he needed workers he could always get workers," the document read.

He also described the arrival in Topeka of Jacinta Sebastian Pereria. It was his death in April that prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to begin an investigation.

A confidential informant reported to ICE agents that Singh, a.k.a. Latti, was physically abusive, forced Globe employees to work against their will, and took travel and identification documents belonging to employees to prevent them from leaving, according to an affidavit accompanying the indictment. Investigators said four to eight employees lived in a two-bedroom apartment leased by Singh in the 1200 block of S.W. Polk.

Pereria entered the United States with a tourist visa in June 2005. In April 2008, investigators said he was working nearly 70 hours per week as a waiter at the Globe making about $1,200 a month, occasionally wiring money to his wife. While he told the informant he wanted to return to India, Pereria said Singh wouldn't allow him to do so.

The Globe Restaurant is still open for business.

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