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Detroit – A Novi man has been sentenced to nine months in prison for employing five Mexican immigrants who died in a house fire.

Federal prosecutors wanted seven years in prison for Roger Tam, who owned the former Kim’s Garden restaurant. But U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani said she wouldn’t hold Tam and his wife responsible for the deaths at their home.

A teen and four men from Mexico were in the U.S. illegally. They died in 2016 when they failed to escape a basement fire that was linked to careless smoking. Autopsies showed three had been drinking heavily.

Tam told the judge Thursday that he was “deeply heartbroken” over the deaths. The victims lived in Tam’s house and were ages 16 to 23.

Tam’s wife, Ada Mei Lei, wasn’t given a prison sentence.

Both pleaded guilty last year to harboring immigrants.

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