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Restaurant owner charged in fire that killed immigrants

Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 12, 2016

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban Detroit restaurant owner and his wife have been charged with harboring immigrants who were in the U.S. without legal permission after five of his employees died in a house fire.

Police, immigration officials and the U.S. attorney’s office said Friday that 55-year-old Roger Tam and 48-year-old Ada Lei were charged after five Mexican nationals died in the Jan. 31 fire.

The men weren’t U.S. citizens or in the country legally. They ranged in age from 16 to 23 and lived in the basement of a house Tam owned.

Defense attorney Samuel Bennett said Friday that Tam “loved” them “as his own family.”

Tam is jailed pending a detention hearing Wednesday. Lei was in a hospital for an undisclosed reason.

The name of her lawyer was not immediately available.