Garment Factory Manager Found Guilty of Offering Bribe to Labor Inspector

The general manager of a Southern California clothing factory was found guilty on April 26 by a federal jury for offering to pay a bribe to a labor inspector to close down an investigation into back wages owed to factory workers, said the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Howard Quoc Trinh, the manager at Seven-Bros Enterprises in La Puente, Calif., was indicated last year by a federal grand jury that accused him of offering to pay a U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour investigator $10,000 to end an investigation that allegedly showed the factory owed some $100,000 in back wages to its workers.

“Companies and their managers victimizing their own employees through wage violations cannot perpetuate their conduct through bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “This jury verdict strikes a blow against both corruption and the exploitation of workers.”

The indictment also noted that Trinh offered the bribe to release a hold known as a “hot goods” objection that had been placed on a shipment of clothing.

Under the “hot goods” provisions, the U.S. Department of Labor can seek a court order to prevent the interstate shipment of goods produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime or child-labor provisions of the law. The order applies not only to the employer who produced the goods but to anyone in possession of the goods.

According to the indictment, an investigator was examining Seven-Bros for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wage and overtime pay.

The investigation found that between May 2012 and March 10, 2015, the clothing factory allegedly owed its workers $100,000 in back wages.

The investigator returned to the apparel factory on March 18, court documents said, where Trinh allegedly told the federal labor investigator he didn’t owe his employees any money and that he wanted to “take care” of the investigator, offering $10,000 to settle the case and to lift the “hot goods” order.

During a recorded meeting the next day, Trinh allegedly gave the investigator $3,000 in a manila envelope, court papers said.

A criminal complaint was filed against Trinh on March 20, 2015, and he was arrested. At his initial court appearance, Trinh was released on a $200,000 bond and ordered to appear for arraignment on April 17.

Trinh faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, who presided over the trial, has not scheduled a sentencing date yet.