As trial nears, attorneys argue about importance of restaurant's history

2013-11-04T20:30:00Z 2013-11-04T21:26:08Z As trial nears, attorneys argue about importance of restaurant's historyElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com
November 04, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The owners of the Paragon Restaurant are asking a judge to allow information about the previous owners in response to a motion filed in federal court.

Prosecutors filed a motion last week asking a judge to not allow information about the restaurant's previous owners who allegedly also hired and housed workers who were in the country illegally, according to court records.

The previous owners were not charged and will not testify during the trial.

Michael McClellan and Tina McClellan were charged last year with hiring and harboring workers for the Paragon Restaurant who were living in the country illegally, according to court records. They also face charges of mail fraud and money laundering. 

Defense attorney Scott King argued in the response that information about the previous owners is necessary to prove the defendants knowledge, intent and to prove their innocence. 

The McClellans had never owned a restaurant before purchasing the business and a nearby house from well-established restaurant operators, according to the response. The defense plans to present information during the trial about two family members of the previous owners who were kept in the loop of the restaurant's daily operations. 

Prosecutors argued in their motion the previous owners' history and practices does not change that the defendants are accused of hiring and housing workers who were here illegally. 

The trial is scheduled to start Nov. 12. 

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