Court gavel

SALT LAKE CITY — The owner of a Logan restaurant was ordered to probation after federal officials alleged he failed to pay proper wages to employees and forged checks.

Justin Hamilton was sentenced last week to three years of probation after pleading guilty last June to one felony count of obstruction of proceedings before departments and agencies, a felony.

He was also ordered to pay $109,902 in restitution, which federal officials say he’s already paid. The restitution will go to the employees whom were not paid properly when working at Hamilton’s restaurants.

Hamilton, a Logan resident, is a co-owner of the Cafe Sabor franchise of restaurants, with Utah locations in Layton, Logan, St. George and Garden City. Cafe Sabor restaurants are also located in Island Park and Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Hamilton first fell under federal scrutiny when the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division began investigating the restaurant’s Garden City location in October 2016 after systematic wage and hour violations were found. Later, the locations in Layton and Logan were also investigated, according to information filed in the case.

In February 2017, Hamilton agreed to pay back all wages, which totaled over $125,000, before the end of July the same year. While Hamilton paid some of the money, months later officials found he had been avoiding making payments.

Federal investigators said that between Sept. 1-11, 2017, Hamilton sent several emails to the Wage and Hour Division office in Salt Lake City showing copies of checks he made to workers that were owed back pay.

However, when the office attempted to verify with the workers if they had received the money, it was revealed that some employees were not paid and the checks submitted to the department had been forged, according to charging documents.

The avoidance of paying employees and forging checks led to the federal charge being filed against him in March 2019.

With his case officially closed, Hamilton’s probation term began immediately. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine, and because he is a convicted felon, he is not legally able to possess firearms, according to court documents.

Jacob Scholl is the Cops and Courts Reporter for the Standard-Examiner. Email him at jscholl@standard.net and follow him on Twitter at @Jacob_Scholl.

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