Chuy's execs make first court appearnacePosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Chuy's execs made their first court appearance Thursday afternoon, one day after federal agents raided the restaurants in Phoenix, Tucson and California.
Forty illegal immigrants were detained in the raid.
Father, son and accountant faced a judge in federal court, but they weren't there long.
"Because of their exemplary records, their ties to the community, the fact that none of them have a slight bit of criminal records, ideal candidates to be released," said Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Nash.
The three stood before District Judge Glenda Edmonds for just under two hours.
The judge decided they could be set free, as long as they surrender their passports and promise to show up at future court dates and the government doesn't oppose it.
"Next step is arraignment for not guilty plea," said Nash.
All three suspects walked right out Thursday night and they didn't say much. Prominent criminal defense attorney Walter Nash did the talking for his client Chris Evenson.
"Anybody who's never had a scrape of the law and who's operated in business and has a family is shocked to death when police show up and take you to jail," said Nash. They're upset. They're emotional. They'll bounce back in the next days and get on to business of their lives and defending the case."
They face 19 charges for tax evasion and hiring illegal immigrants at Chuy's, And some of those former workers may testify against their bosses.
"They're individuals who are not legally in the country. They're individuals who are not charged but the government wants to use as witnesses," said Nash.
If convicted, Mark and Christopher Evenson face up to 80 years in prison. Diane Strehlow could face up to 40 years. Not to mention millions of dollars in possible fines.
All three defendants are due back in court for arraignment on April 25.