An Ohio Kurdish restaurant owner and chef was charged with conspiring to smuggle three undocumented immigrants from Mexico to Cincinnati.
Comert Kurdistan, 43, aka Comert Aldic, of Newtown, owns Leyla Mediterranean restaurant in Anderson Towne Center. He, 26-year-old Ismail Altundag and 35-year-old Emma Brown, aka Emma Nur, were charged with conspiracy and aiding and abetting to smuggle undocumented immigrants into the U.S.
The three face up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all six felony counts.
Kurdistan, Altundag and Brown are originally from Turkey, as are the three undocumented immigrants, according to the United States Attorney's Office.
The U.S. Attorney's Office didn't disclose the motive for the alleged conspiracy or allege a connection to Kurdistan's restaurant.
A woman who identified herself as Emma Brown said she managed the restaurant. She claimed the alleged undocumented immigrants had not worked there.
"I'm trying to do my business, leave us alone," she said.
According to Leyla Mediterranean's website, Kurdistan moved to the U.S. in 2011.
In 2015, a restaurant review in Cincinnati Magazine called Kurdistan "an eggplant whisperer" for his ability to create memorable dishes with the fruit.
Kurdistan has been detained in the Butler County Jail since late on Wednesday night.