Three owners of an Atlanta company that supplied meat to restaurants around the Southeast were sentenced to prison Wednesday after they admitted hiring at least 12 illegal immigrants and paying wages off the books so they could avoid more than $300,000 in federal taxes, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rhett Maughon, 49, and Marcus Maughon, 47, were sentenced to five and three years in prison, respectively. Rafael Villarreal Sr., 42, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by detention proceedings with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The three men and two others not named in the indictment owned Atlanta Food Authority, doing business as Atlanta Meat Co. Prosecutors said the men received cash for some customers paid in cash, which they did not report. They also paid some employees entirely or partly in cash, many of whom were not authorized to work in this country.

“The defendants’ unwritten business ‘success’ plan for Atlanta Meat Company included cutting legal corners by hiring undocumented workers and evading federal taxes, in part by ensuring that the cash they received in their business never made it to their accountant’s books,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in the news release.

U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. handed down the sentences, “the maximum sentence of imprisonment authorized by law,” prosecutors said in the news release.

They also were ordered to pay individual restitution on their personal income taxes -- Rhett Maughon, $126,390; Marcus Maughon, $126,979; and Villarreal, $129,606 – and joint restitution of $312,639.75 for Atlanta Meat’s employment tax liabilities from January 2003 through September 2006.

Additionally, each man was ordered to serve three years’ supervised release, and the Maughons must each perform 100 hours of community service.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution