The manager of a La Puente garment factory faces the possibility of a years-long federal prison sentence Thursday 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, manager of Seven-Bros Enterprises, was convicted a year ago 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.
The defendant’s conduct “reflects a complete disregard for the law — he tried to buy his way out of trouble,” according to pre-sentencing papers filed by the government.
Prosecutors are urging U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder to sentence the 43-year-old Arcadia resident to about five years behind bars. Trinh’s attorney is asking for a probationary sentence.
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.
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.