Panda Express workers nabbed in identity theft probe

TUCSON Ariz. Eleven employees of a Panda Express unit in north Tucson were arrested earlier this week in an identity theft investigation.

The seven men and four women are being held in Pima County jail on suspicion of taking the identity of another person with the intent to obtain employment, said officials from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The suspects’ names were not released as investigators were working to identify them.

Officers searched the Panda Express unit and said they suspect the workers had lied about their identities to get jobs at the restaurant. Officers said the restaurant was not accused of wrongdoing.

Monte Baier, senior vice president for Panda Restaurant Group in Rosemead, Calif., said in a statement: “Panda Express has and continues to be in full compliance with all federal and state laws. Moreover, we have and will continue to cooperate with the Arizona Department of Public Safety in this matter.”

The arrests were made Monday and Tuesday after a three-month investigation, the DPS said.

The Arizona attorney general’s office is handling the prosecutions.

On Jan. 1, a new Arizona law took effect that cracked down on businesses that hire undocumented workers. County attorneys can seek to suspend and ultimately revoke the business license of an employer who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant.