Motel operator pleads guilty in wage case


A motel operator in the region has pleaded guilty in a federal wage investigation.

Investigators said Mehul Patel agreed to pay back wages and then forced some employees to cash checks and return the money.

Patel pleaded guilty last week to concealing those facts from the U.S. Labor Department when investigators tried to confirm he was following minimum wage laws.

The 31-year-old Patel, known as Mike, operated motels in Battle Creek and Coldwater.

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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