- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - Investigators say a Michigan motel operator who agreed to pay back wages forced some employees to cash checks and return the money.

Mehul Patel pleaded guilty Thursday to concealing those facts from the U.S. Labor Department when investigators tried to confirm that he was following minimum wage laws. The 31-year-old Patel, known as Mike, operated motels in Coldwater and Battle Creek.

The maximum sentence is five years in prison, although federal Judge Paul Maloney will have much flexibility. The plea deal says there’s no agreement between prosecutors and Patel on the sentencing guidelines.

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