Hotel owner pleads guilty to making workers return pay

Mehul Patel
A mug shot of Mehul Patel.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek hotel owner who made his workers return their pay has pleaded guilty to federal charges in the case.

Mehul Shandubhai Patel, who goes by Mike, on Thursday admitted to lying to the U.S. Department of Labor about paying his employees as required by federal minimum wage rules.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in 2014 Patel agreed to repay his employees at two hotels he owned in Battle Creek and Marshall after the Department of Labor found he violated federal minimum wage rules. He later sent the Department of Labor checks indicating that he had repaid his employees, but in fact, Patel made his employees return the money to him.

Patel, 31, faces up to five years in prison and may be ordered to pay restitution when he is sentenced.

In November 2015, Patel was charged in Calhoun County District Court with accepting earnings from prostitution and keeping a house of prostitution. When asked to comment on that case in December 2016, Prosecutor David Gilbert said that it remained under investigation.