Uncle Sam's restaurant owner arrested for ID theft

Posted: Updated:
Bret Frimmel By Mike Gertzman Bret Frimmel By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Lisa Norton By Mike Gertzman Lisa Norton By Mike Gertzman
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies have arrested a Valley restaurant owner for identify theft.

Bret Frimmel, 40, was arrested on four counts of trafficking the identity of another, four counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.

The investigation into Frimmel's Uncle Sam's restaurants began in October 2012 after the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office received a tip from a caller about the hiring of several people using false identification documents to gain employment.

Ten people were arrested on felony charges related to identity theft and forgery after MCSO conducted a workplace ID theft operation at two restaurant locations in July.

Frimmel was arrested around noon on Wednesday at the Uncle Sam's at 83rd Avenue and Union Hills Drive in Peoria.

"He was knowingly hiring employees with fake social security numbers," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "We even have witnesses in the restaurants that he made comments that he likes hiring illegal immigrants because they work hard and he can pay them less money."

Deputies also arrested Frimmel's manager, Lisa Norton, 53, on two counts of trafficking the identity of another, three counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.

"Today's arrests mark the first time sheriff's deputies have taken into custody an owner/employer on criminal charges relating to identity theft for the purposes of employing undocumented persons," according to an MCSO news release.

The investigation into Uncle Sam's restaurants was the 73rd workplace investigation conducted by the Sheriff's Criminal Employment Squad. The sheriff's office said 762 employees were arrested during those investigations.

"One way of maybe stopping this is to try to send a message to the employers, those that knowingly hire employees that have fake ID," Arpaio said.

3TV contacted Uncle Sam's staff but they declined to comment.