EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The U.S. Government Federal Courthouse was a sight to see on Tuesday. As the clock approached 2 p.m. a line slowly formed from the outside in. All the people in line were there for the same reason, to support fellow community members, Gracie Sung and Kent Dam in their sentencing hearing.

Gene Brown has known the owners for 26 years. He came out of the courthouse with tears in his eyes and says today’s hearing went well.

“We are static and they are good people. It looks like they are going to be all right,” he says.

Chris Kissel was also at the hearing and had a seat in the courtroom. He has known Dam and Sung for at least five years and had nothing but good things to say about them and their business.

“They are just king hearted people. I think their main goal was to help people. They have been in this situation themselves. It was nice, you know, to see that come out in the decision making in the end,” he says.

Kent and Gracie’s Chinese Cuisine were sentenced in court on the charges of :

  • Transporting and Harboring Illegal Aliens
  • Money Laundering
  • Unlawful Employment of Illegal Aliens

But they were far from alone, over 50 community members came to the hearing. There were so many people, the court not only ran out of pouches to put phones, but they had to have some people stand in the hall with the door open to listen to the hearing. The judge commented on the amount of people there, saying he had never in all his years of his job seen so many people come out to a sentencing hearing before.

The hearing itself, was emotional with many community members tearing up, even the judge seemed touched by the circumstances that brought the defendants before him. The attorneys and judge went through the plea agreements and background and all relevant information in the case as well as the pre-sentence investigation. The defendants gave out heartfelt apologies for their wrongdoings and asked the judge for mercy in their sentencing.

The judge delivered the mercy asked for, giving the following sentences:

Kent Dam:

  • $35,000 fine
  • Forfeit of his 2017 Toyota Truck that was used in the charged crimes
  • Time Served (zero days)

Gracie’s Chinese Cuisine:

  • 2 years probation
  • $15, 000 fine

In addition to these sentences, Kent will be considered a convicted Felon and will lose certain citizen privileges such as to right to own guns and the right to vote. Before coming into court, Kent got his truck detailed knowing he would be forfeiting it.

With the sentences, came audible sighs of relief from the community members gathered in the courtroom. There was a long line of hugs, handshakes and comments of support and thanks as people filed out of the courtroom.