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President, manager of French restaurant in San Diego accused of hiring illegal immigrants

April 21, 2010 |  4:29 pm

The president and a manager of the French Gourmet, a San Diego restaurant-catering business-bakery known for elegant entrees, sumptuous pastries, and a highly refined wine list, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of hiring illegal immigrants and supplying the government with phony documents.

Michel Malecot, 58, and Richard Kauffmann, 57, are charged with conspiracy, eight counts of phony documents, and three counts of harboring undocumented workers at their business location in Pacific Beach. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday.

Opened in 1979, the French Gourmet specializes in catering birthday parties and weddings, with its heart-shaped Praline-chocolate mousse cake as a favorite. Despite the criminal case, the business remains open, and is preparing for a special Mother's Day brunch where smoked-salmon omelets and strawberry crepes will be served.

“The government will hold accountable those employers who violate the law and profit from the labor of unauthorized workers," U.S. Atty. Karen Hewitt said.

If one of the two defendants is convicted, the restaurant property could be seized by the federal government, according to court documents.

Tony Perry in San Diego