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San Diego Immigration Attorney – French Gourmet bistro hit with immigration charges

The owner of the landmark restaurant and bakery The French Gourmet and a longtime manager there pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they hired illegal workers and lied to the government that they had the proper work documents.

Michel Malecot, president of the restaurant, bakery and catering business on Turquoise Avenue in Pacific Beach, and Richard Kauffmann a manager and pastry chef, were charged with 16 counts of conspiracy, harboring illegal immigrants and false attestation. The charges stem from a raid conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the business in May 2008.

Malecot posted a $75,000 bond and Kauffmann a $60,000 bond after entering their pleas in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes.

The indictment alleges that Kauffmann and other managers would hire illegal workers and then certify on government forms that they had verified their Social Security and other documents and they were legal to work in the country.

In a half-dozen instances alleged in the indictment, the restaurant received “no match” letters form the Social Security Administration saying the Social Security numbers submitted in the forms were not valid. The restaurant would then submit new forms with new Social Security numbers falsely saying that the documents appeared genuine, the government charged.

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