The single greatest incentive for illegal aliens to come to the United States is the potential for employment. Although the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 outlaws hiring illegal alien workers, employers continue to hire illegal aliens, in part because prosecution for violating the law is difficult for two reasons:
- The law requires proof that the employer knowingly hired the illegal worker The prevalence of fake documents makes it difficult to prove the employer knew that the employee’s work documents were not legitimate.
- Enforcement of workplace laws tend to vary from one administration to another. The largest workplace raid to ever take place in the U.S. – at the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse/ meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in May of 2008, led to the arrest of almost 400 illegal workers The investigations begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued into the Obama administration, where they eventually resulted in prosecutions.
While the primary targets of Bush-era worksite enforcement actions were illegal workers themselves, his successor preferred to focus on employers. The Obama approach was characterized by less high-profile “desktop audits,” which gave businesses advanced notice of impending actions. Although the number of those arrested on administrative and criminal charges decreased considerably during the Obama years, administrative fines increased sharply.
The Trump administration realized that focusing exclusively on one side of the equation was insufficient to address the core of the problem, so they opted for a combination of both.
So far, the Trump era has seen the second largest workforce enforcement action in U.S. history, which occurred on April 3, 2019, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided CVE Technology Group in Allen, Texas. Over 280 illegal workers of more than fifteen nationalities were arrested.
It was also the Trump administration that levied the largest single immigration-related penalty in U.S. history when Asplundh Tree Expert Co. was ordered to pay $95 million in 2017.
The information below is taken from government websites and news sources. Each party in the report either confessed or was convicted of knowingly hiring illegal aliens.
It should be noted that following a worksite enforcement action by ICE, there can often be a significant delay before criminal charges are filed against employers caught violating immigration laws. That is because those charged with criminal violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act must be indicted by a grand jury, tried before the U.S. District Court, and found guilty, prior to the imposition of any penalty. The government is often able to institute civil fines against employers, and civil removal proceedings against illegal alien employees, more quickly. Accordingly, those are the more frequently reported-on consequences of worksite enforcement. However, some employers choose to settle out of court and subsequent nondisclosure agreements prevent the public from learning about the penalties they were assessed.
On September 14, ICE, the Department of Labor, and the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced that Savantis Solutions, LLC, an H-1B-reliant consulting and staffing company, was ordered to pay $345,000 in restitution for violating immigration and labor regulations regarding continuous employment and wage levels. A government investigation determined that from January 2014 through June 2018 the New-Jersey-based company failed to pay its H-1B workers required wages on a routine basis and that the corporation improperly recruited H-1B workers by demanding they provide “security deposits” before Savantis submitted their H-1B lottery applications. They were also compelled to hire an outside law firm to monitor their activities for the next three years. (ICE.gov, September 14, 2020)
On August 6, indictments were unsealed against four individuals who were “managers, supervisors, or human resources personnel” at Mississippi-based companies where federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed criminal and administrative search warrants in August 2019 (which resulted in the detention of 680 illegal aliens and the prosecution of 119 illegal aliens). The charges related to the largest worksite raid in history include “harboring illegal aliens, assisting in representing false citizenship and obtaining false Social Security cards, lying to law enforcement, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.” If sentenced, the individuals could face multiple years in prison and steep fines. Investigations of federal criminal violations related to the raids continue. (ICE.gov, August 6, 2020)
In June, E.C. Construction Inc., a stonemason contractor based in Rineyville, Kentucky, agreed to pay $24,755 in civil penalties for violating the provisions of the H-2B temporary non-agricultural guestworker program. The company was also required to pay $76,803 in back wages to four employees. According to the Department of Labor, the contractor exempted H-2B guestworkers from drug testing requirements, and also “incorrectly classified workers as helpers while they performed the work of brickmasons or blockmasons.” By doing so, E.C. Construction was able to pay guestworkers at a lower rate than required. (DOL.gov, June 11, 2020)
An Ohio-based landscaping company, Yard Solutions, improperly exempted its temporary non-agricultural H-2B guestworkers from required drug testing and did not pay the visa processing fees for its foreign workers nor for time the workers spent commuting to work. According to a June settlement agreement with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Yard Solutions agreed to pay $18,469 in back wages to 12 employees and an additional $6,531 in civil penalties. (DOL.gov, June 10, 2020)
Eddie Woods Stables, a Florida horse training center, paid $26,514 in back wages to 42 employees for violating the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa program, as well as a $39,293 civil penalty assessed by the Department of Labor. According to a Department release, their investigators found the stables had “failed to apply the offered terms and conditions of the job to all employees equally, advertising a stable attendant position at 40 hours per week to American applicants when the employer, in fact, intended the selected employees to work 48 hours per week. In addition, the employer advertised the job to U.S. workers at the locally prevailing wage rate, as required, but paid the selected foreign workers at a higher rate.” (DOL.gov, June 25, 2020)
On April 29, Yong Min Choe pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to conceal and harbor illegal aliens by employing them at his 7-Eleven franchise in Brentwood, New York.” He faces up to 10 years in prison in addition to a fine of “up to twice the value of the gross gain,” i.e. the profits from using cheap illegal labor to enrich himself. Choe also “agreed to forfeit more than $1.3 million in assets that represent proceeds of the offense.” Choe had been hiring illegal aliens from 2004 to November 2019, allowing them to use false documentation. (ICE.gov, April 29, 2020)
Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Tennessee-based landscaping company Outdoors Unlimited Inc. paid $52,000 in back wages to 21 employees and was barred from participating in the H-2B program for one year. According to the WHD, it was determined that Outdoors Unlimited Inc. had failed to record and pay employees for work they performed before and after their scheduled shifts and also neglected to pay them for time commuting between worksites in order to avoid paying overtime. (DOL.gov, March 4, 2020)
A Florida-based farm labor contractor, SBHLP Inc., was ordered to pay $224,249 in wages to 194 employees for violating requirements of the H-2A visa program, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The company, which supplied cheap labor to North Carolina farms, also paid a $239,430 civil penalty and was barred from the H-2A program for three years. DOL investigators found the company and its owner, Salvador Barajas, had failed to provide workers required meal breaks and did not reimburse the H-2A workers for either their 2018 outbound travel expenses nor 2019 inbound travel expenses after they completed 50 percent of their contract, which is required by law. (DOL.gov, March 5, 2020)
On February 26, a northeastern Nebraska agricultural company and a local businessman each pleaded guilty in federal court for taking part in a conspiracy to harbor and employ illegal aliens. The firm in question was O’Neill Ventures, Inc., a tomato greenhouse and packing plant in O’Neill, Nebraska. According to ICE: “The conspiracy relates to the earlier prosecution of Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado, an illegal alien who acted as ringleader of the harboring scheme. Sanchez-Delgado was sentenced in 2019 to 120 months for his role in the conspiracy. Local businessman John Charles Good, car salesman and owner of the La Herradura restaurant in O’Neill, also entered a guilty plea (…) for aiding and abetting Sanchez-Delgado in his conspiracy to unlawfully employ and harbor illegal aliens.”
The conspiracy to employ illegal aliens lasted since at least 2014 until August 2018, when ICE raided O’Neill Ventures, Inc., “and found that undocumented alien workers comprised approximately 70% of the company’s work force” at the time. ICE also emphasizes that “Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard described Sanchez-Delgado’s financial exploitation of the workers at the tomato plant and other agricultural work sites as one of the ‘most egregious financial crimes,’ that the judge had ever seen.”
According to the plea agreement, O’Neill Ventures will have to pay a $400,000 fine at sentencing and submit to HSI reviews and inspections of their hiring and labor practices during a probationary period. (ICE.gov, February 26, 2020)
In January five North Texas businessmen pleaded guilty to running a scheme to employ illegal aliens. Speed Fab Crete, a Texas-based building company, agreed to forfeit $3 million to the U.S. Treasury. ICE emphasizes that “the company’s three owners, Carl Eugene Hall, Ronald Alan Hamm, and David Leon Bloxom, are jointly and severally liable for the full amount if Speed Fab Crete does not fulfill its financial obligations under the non-prosecution agreement.”
Hall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully harbor illegal aliens, a felony. Mark Sevier, the owner of Take Charge Staffing, a temp agency utilized by Speed Fab Crete, pleaded guilty to the same felony. Hamm, Bloxom, and the firm’s chief financial officer, Robert Edwin James, pleaded guilty to unlawful employment of illegal aliens – a misdemeanor offense.
Following an inspection of the company’s employment records, it was revealed that almost half (43 out of 106) of Speed Fab Crete’s employees not authorized to work in the United States. The business Speed Fab Crete. While the business entered into a settlement with HSI, pledging to rectify the situation, it never did so. Instead, it simply lied to the federal government about its employment of illegal aliens, misleadingly claiming that all had been terminated. The reality was that, in September 2016, 39 unauthorized workers were let go, but 23 of the illegal aliens were directed to Take Charge Staffing, placed on its payroll, and immediately assigned to their former employer, Speed Fab Crete. For the next 11 months (until August 2017), Hall authorized all the invoices for the illegal alien workers sent by Take Charge Staffing.
According to ICE, “Hall and Sevier are facing up to five years in federal prison. Bloxom, Hamm, and James are facing up to six months in federal prison. As part of the plea agreements, each individual will also be required to pay a $69,000 fine, equal to $3,000 per alien, which is the statutory maximum.” This is in addition to the $3 million forfeited by Speed Fab Crete. (ICE.gov, January 27, 2020)
On December 11, Tim Icenhower, of Marshall, Texas, and Icenhower Oil and Gas, Inc. – a pipeline and oilfield construction company located in Bossier City, Louisiana – were indicted by a federal grand jury on 18 counts of harboring aliens. According to the indictments, from January 2017 onward, Icenhower and his company knowingly hired illegal aliens and encouraged them to reside in the U.S. unlawfully. “If convicted,” the Department of Justice points out, “Tim Icenhower faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, and three years of supervised release; Icenhower Oil and Gas, Inc. faces a $500,000 fine for each count.” (Justice.gov, January 15, 2020)
- Four executives at a suburban Chicago sheet metal KSO MetalFab Inc. manufacturing plant were charged in the U.S. District Court of Chicago with one count each of knowingly hiring and harboring illegal aliens. According to ICE officials, the executives – Dora Kuzelka, Kenneth Kuzelka, Kari Kuzelka, and Keith Kuzelka – knowingly hired at least 18 illegal workers.
According to the criminal complaint, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) determined after completing a 2017 civil audit that 36 of the company’s 67 employees were suspected of using fraudulent work authorization documents to verify their eligibility for employment. HSI served the company with a written notice of the suspected violations, and the company responded by attesting that it had terminated all 36 of the identified employees. At least 18 of those fired were later re-hired through a staffing agency. (Department of Justice, October 18, 2019)
- Hrachya Atoyan, an Armenian national living in Glendale, California, pleaded guilty on October 21 for his part in a multi-year visa fraud scheme to unlawfully bring Armenian citizens into the United States for profit. Atoyan and his co-conspirators fraudulently claimed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the Armenians were members of performance groups, and thus qualified for P-3 “Culturally Unique Artist” visas.
The illegal aliens were coached on how to respond to questions in visa interviews and also provided U.S. consular officers fraudulent identification documents during their interviews. (Department of Justice, October 21, 2019)
- Hector Valdez-Loera of Madison, Mississippi, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for harboring an illegal alien for commercial advantage and private financial gain. He was also ordered to pay a $79,784 administrative fine.
- Valdez-Loera – the owner of Madison Concrete – hired unauthorized foreign nationals with nonexistent Social Security numbers or those belonging to deceased individuals. He failed to use E-Verify and referred to his illegal employees as subcontractors. He also utilized his financial information to obtain housing for at least two of his illegal alien workers. (Department of Justice, October 9, 2019)
- A federal indictment was unsealed on June 24 following the arrests of Nery A. Martinez Vasquez, and Maura N. Martinez, on charges of conspiracy, forced labor, and alien harboring for financial gain. According to the indictment, between September 2016 and February 2018, the defendants conspired to bring a Guatemalan woman and her two minor daughters to the U.S. using temporary visitor visas and then hide them once their visas expired. Her intent was to force them to work for little or no pay. Furthermore, the defendants imposed a debt on the victims to prevent them from returning to Guatemala, subjected them to physical, psychological, and verbal abuse, threatened them with arrest, and separated the Guatemalan woman from her daughters, all to compel their labor. (Department of Justice, June 24, 2019)
- Juan Antonio Perez, an illegal alien from Mexico, was indicted on federal felony charges, including hiring and exploiting illegal aliens. The owner of a construction company – Aztec Framing, which operated in parts of Georgia and Tennessee – took advantage of unauthorized foreign nationals by “paying them below-market wages. This allowed Perez to undercut legitimate business competitors who were unable to compete due to his illegal business practices.”
According to ICE, “Perez allegedly used the proceeds of his illegal activity to build a 7,500-square-foot house, bought other houses where he allowed some of his employees to live, and purchased more than 50 sports cars and heavily customized trucks.” He also owned 14 firearms, which it is unlawful for illegal aliens to possess. (ICE.gov, May 9, 2019)
- A New Jersey woman – Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity – was convicted on charges of forced labor, alien harboring for financial gain, and marriage fraud following a six-day trial. According to the Justice Department, the jury deliberated for two hours before returning the guilty verdict.
Hunaity brought a Sri Lankan national to the U.S. on a temporary visa in 2009 to perform domestic work, but forced the victim to overstay the visa and clean homes illegally for over nine years. The forced labor charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. (Department of Justice, May 9, 2019)
- On April 22, U.S. District Court Judge Reid O’Connor sentenced two Texas residents – Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure – to seven years in prison each and ordered them to pay $288,620.24 in restitution after they were convicted by a federal jury. They were found guilty of forced labor, conspiracy to commit alien harboring, and alien harboring.
As lawful permanent residents of the United States, the Guinea nationals may lose their U.S. immigration status and be removed pursuant to law. (Department of Justice, April 22, 2019)
- The owner of China Buffet II in Meridian, Mississippi — Cheng Lin – was sentenced to twelve months in federal prison, followed by 5 years supervised release, for harboring illegal aliens at his restaurant. Lin’s father and wife (an illegal alien from China) were also sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of house arrest and three years of supervised release. The buffet itself was sentenced to two years of probation, assessed a $200,000 fine, and ordered to execute an immigration compliance program. Moreover, the defendants and their restaurant forfeited $700,000 to the government in 2017. The search warrant was originally executed in February 2017. (Justive.gov, April 12, 2019)
- Somphon Chiwabandit and THAI THAI, LLC. d/b/a Sticky Rice Thai Cuisine pleaded guilty to harboring and employing illegal aliens. He also admitted to transporting and housing two illegal aliens, in addition to being in the U.S. unlawfully himself (Chiwabandit overstayed a business visitor visa seven years ago). Sentencing is set for April 17, 2019. (Justice.gov, March 14, 2019)
- Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado, an illegal alien from Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to harbor illegal aliens for profit – which is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. His scheme generated $5,648,519 in proceeds. According to ICE: “Sanchez-Delgado admitted that between January 2015 and July 2017, he conspired with supervisors at multiple agricultural corporations to supply those companies with alien workers (…). The corporations contracted with Sanchez-Delgado in an attempt to avoid criminal responsibilities for labor violations. Sanchez-Delgado, an illegal alien himself, provided hundreds of illegal workers to various corporations.” He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31, 2019 and has already forfeited four Las Vegas residences (with more than $1 million in equity) in addition to bank accounts and cash in excess of $178,000. (ICE.gov, March 5, 2019)
- Sergio Ramses Mucino was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion and employing more than ten illegal aliens in four Mexican restaurants he owned in the area of Buffalo, New York. Mucino also forfeited over $1 million dollars in illegal profits, a 2009 Porsche Boxster he purchased with the proceeds of his illegal activities, and two houses (where some of the illegal employees had lived). His co-conspirators were also sentenced, albeit on different occasions: Jose Sanchez-Ocampo was sentenced to time served (in March 2019) and will be subject to removal proceedings; Marguin Sanchez was sentenced to time served (in October 2018) and forfeited two properties; and (Justice.gov, March 13, 2019; February 14, 2019; October 19, 2018)
- Edwin J. Gire of Champaign, Illinois – the owner of Gire Roofing, Inc. – was sentenced to three years in prison for visa fraud and harboring and employing illegal aliens. He was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, and sentenced to two years of supervised release following his release from prison. The parent company of Gire Roofing, Inc. (Grayson Enterprises) was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. Gire had fraudulently obtained H-2B worker visas in 2011 – 2014, paid his illegal workers below-market wages, and allowed them to live in a company-owned building (to make it more difficult for ICE to find them). (Justice.gov, February 7, 2019)
- A restauranteur from Columbia Heights, Minnesota – Pisanu “Pat” Sukhtipyaroge – received a sentence of 42 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution (the exact amount to be determined at a later date) for visa fraud and harboring an alien. The 72-year-old Sukhtipyaroge fraudulently brought a Dominican man to the U.S. on an F-1 visa (a temporary, non-immigrant visa for students), forcing the 18-year-old to work in his restaurant (failing to pay him the $500 per month he originally promised and deducting the costs of bringing the alien to the country) and have sex with him. In addition, “Sukhtipyaroge had helped other young men get visas in the past, two of whom came forward after reading reports about the investigation,” and “forced them to look at pornography, made sexual advances and put them to work at his restaurant.” (Justice.gov, February 6, 2019; Star Tribune, February 7, 2019)
- December 2018 - On December 13, 2018, three illegal aliens – brothers Pablo Rangel-Rubio and Juan Rangel-Rubio, and Higinio Perez-Bravo – were charged in a federal indictment by the U.S. District Court in Savannah, Georgia, for allegedly plotting to murder a whistleblower who exposed their scheme to hire and exploit illegal aliens.
The investigation began on August 19, 2017, two days after the body of Eliud Montoya, who had been shot dead, was found near his Garden City, Georgia, home. Montoya was a Mexican-born naturalized U.S. citizen working for a tree service (Wolf Tree, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Davey Tree Expert Co.) in the Savannah area.
According to the Department of Justice, “two days before his death, Montoya (…) had filed a formal complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Pablo Rangel-Rubio ran a scheme to employ illegal aliens at the tree service, profiting from the company while also skimming pay from
the illegal workers. Four months earlier, Montoya also had reported the scheme to company officials.”
In response, the brothers sought revenge. According to the indictment, Pablo Rangel-Rubio paid Perez-Bravo to assist Juan Rangel-Rubio in murdering Montoya. During a 10-year period, the scheme that the whistleblower had reported had netted the brothers approximately $3.5 million.
In February 2020, federal prosecutors dropped the initial death penalty requested for the three illegal aliens. (Justice.gov, December 13, 2018; Univision Atlanta, December 21, 2018; Savannahnow.com, February 28, 2020)
- November 2018 - Seaboard Corporation, which operates a pork production plant in Guymon, Oklahoma, agreed on November 1, 2018, to pay a total of $1,006,000: three-fourths of it ($750,000) to ICE and $256,000 to the State of Oklahoma’s Office of the Attorney General. The settlement,” ICE says, “follows an investigation into allegations that the Guymon plant hired and employed unauthorized workers with respect to the time period 2007-2012 and failed to properly complete employment eligibility forms. Additionally, the investigation looked into allegations that healthcare claims for certain Seaboard employees, who were enrolled in a private health insurance plan provided by Seaboard, were improperly submitted to the Oklahoma Medicaid Program with respect to the same time period, 2007-2012.” (ICE.gov, November 7, 2018)
- September 2018 – On April 5, 2018, ICE conducted a raid of Southeastern Provisions, a cattle slaughterhouse in Bean Station, Tennessee. Ninety-seven illegal alien employees were detained. James Brantley, the owner of Southeastern Provisions, pleaded guilty in September and “admitted he’d been hiring undocumented workers for 20 years, paying them in cash and encouraging applicants to turn in fake Social Security numbers. At least 10 of the workers rounded up in the April raid had been deported before. Brantley’s business strategy allowed him to dodge nearly $1.3 million in payroll taxes, according to court records, while paying wages of $6 to $10 per hour. State inspectors fined Brantley more than $41,000 after the raid for forcing workers to toil in dirty, dangerous conditions.” He faces jail and penalties for tax evasion, wire fraud, and hiring illegal aliens. The slaughterhouse owner also agreed to pay $1.4 million in restitution to the U.S. Government. Brantley is set to return to court for sentencing on June 17, 2019. (Knox News, April 4, 2019; WVLT, September 12, 2018)
- August 2018 - Waste Management of Texas, a Houston-based company, “agreed to forfeit more than $5.5 million and perform remedial measures for a documented pattern and practice of hiring illegal aliens at the company’s Afton, Texas, location.” The amount forfeited to the government represented the proceeds WMT made from hiring illegal aliens. The company’s managers had been engaged in an identity-theft scheme and instructed illegal aliens to assume the identities of individuals with legal status. Four years earlier – in May 2014 – three WMT managers in question received sentences of 27, 87 and 94 months in federal prison. (ICE.gov, August 29, 2018)
- May 2018 – Two illegal aliens from Honduras – Anyi “Angie” Artica-Romero and Milton Noel Romero – were sentenced in Florida for conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their involvement in a scheme to create shell companies to hide the employment of illegal aliens in construction. Milton Romero, who had been in custody for 14 months, was sentenced to time served, while Artica-Romero was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. They were also ordered to forfeit more than $800,000 in illegal proceeds and to pay more than $31,000 in restitution. (ICE.gov, May 31, 2018)
- March 2018 — Two Indian nationals unlawfully residing in the U.S. were sentenced by a federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, of alien harboring for financial gain and conspiracy to harbor an alien. Vishnubhai Chaudhari and Leelabahen Chaudhari were both sentenced to one year and one day in prison, followed by two years’ supervised release. The defendants also paid the victim $40,000 in restitution as a condition of their guilty pleas and will be deported once they finish their sentences. The victim, “who was an undocumented Indian national, [worked] at a Super 8 Motel in Kimball between October 2011 and February 2013. During that time, the defendants required the victim to work long hours, seven days a week at the motel, performing manual labor, including cleaning rooms, shoveling snow, and doing laundry. Although the defendants promised to pay the victim, they never did, but rather claimed to apply that amount to a debt the victim owed. The defendants further restricted the victim’s movement, isolated him, and verbally abused him. Defendant Vishnubhai Chaudhari also threatened to find the victim if he ever left the motel, and defendant Leelabahen Chaudhari regularly assaulted the victim, including on one occasion when she slapped his face several times because he had failed to clean a bathtub to her standards. The victim eventually escaped with the help of a motel guest and local law enforcement.” (Justice.gov, March 19, 2018)
- January 2018 – Before dawn, on Wednesday, January 10, ICE raided ninety-eight 7-Eleven convenience stores in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. As a result, 21 illegal aliens were arrested. The corporation attempted to distance itself from the fallout, pinning the blame on individual franchisees as “solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States.” According to NBC News: “The raids on Wednesday grew out of a 2013 ICE investigation that resulted in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers in New York and Virginia who allegedly used more than 25 stolen identities to employ over 100 people who were in the country illegally. Eight of the accused wound up pleading guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in back wages. The ninth was arrested in November .” (NBC News, January 10, 2018)
- December 2017 – President Trump commuted the sentence of the former CEO of Postville, Iowa-based Agriprocessors, Sholom Rubashkin, to time served. Rubashkin was originally sentenced to 27 years in prison in June 2010. The President left in place the unpaid balance of Rubashkin’s almost $27 million restitution and the five years of supervised release he was sentenced to. Many high-profile political figures from both parties had urged President Trump to commute Rubashkin’s prison sentence. (Des Moines Register, December 21, 2017; Justice.gov, December 20, 2017)
- November 2017 — Hazrat Khalid Khan, a Pakistani citizen, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and one year of supervised release, and will be subject to deportation proceedings upon completion of his sentence. Khan was also ordered to pay restitution of $2,343,155 to the IRS and $27,863 to two insurance companies he defrauded. Khan was the partial owner of eleven fried chicken takeout restaurants in the greater Boston area. According to ICE: “To avoid paying taxes, Khan and several co-conspirators falsely reported to the IRS the number of employees at their stores, some of whom were undocumented workers, and the wages they paid them.” (ICE.gov, November3, 2017)
- September 2017 – Asplundh Tree Expert Co. – a Willow Grove, PA-based utility contractor specializing in trimming and removing trees – pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge and was ordered to pay a total of $95 million for employing thousands of illegal aliens. This was the largest civil fine ever levied by ICE. According to USA Today: “The U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia said Asplundh employed thousands of unauthorized workers between 2010 and 2014, its top management remaining ‘willfully blind’ while lower-level supervisors hired people they knew were in the country illegally. In some cases, the supervisors rehired workers who’d already been let go by the company due to their immigration status.” (USA Today, September 29, 2017)
- August 2017 - La Espiga De Oro – a Houston, Texas-based tortilla factory – was ordered to forfeit $1 million for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. The company’s three owners (Alfredo Sosa Lira, his wife Lydia Botello-Lira, and their daughter Lydia Lira) and night manager Roberto Guerra pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violations related to their continued employment of illegal aliens between October 2011 and August 2015. In fact, more than half of Espiga’s employees were in the U.S. unlawfully. The owners and night manager were sentenced to time served, i.e. “the 18 months they were forced to serve on court-imposed supervised release during the course of this prosecution.” (ICE.gov, August 11, 2017)
- August 2017 — Xing Zheng Lin, aka Steve Lin, was convicted of harboring illegal aliens in his Saga Restaurant locations in Monroeville, Robinson, and Bethel Park – all in Pennsylvania – from 2009 to January 2014. His sentence consisted of “a term of imprisonment of one day, a term of supervised release of three years, with 24 weeks of intermittent confinement and home detention, followed by an additional three months of home confinement and a fine of $30,000. During the period of intermittent confinement, the defendant shall serve two days a week at a jail or a community confinement center designated by the Bureau of Prisons.” (Justice.gov, August 10, 2017)
- April 2017 — Yaowapha Ritdet was sentenced to two years in prison for tax fraud and hiring illegal aliens. The woman owned two Thai restaurants in Ukiah, California, where she employed Thai nationals unlawfully present in the country. Ritdet was further ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay approximately $567,755.65 in restitution (which includes $70,768.65 to underpaid employees and $496,987 to the IRS). (Justice.gov, April 26, 2017)
- December 2016 — Malik Yousaf, the chief manager of five 7-Eleven franchise stores, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens. Yousaf “hired dozens of illegal aliens, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from U.S. citizens, housed them at residences his coconspirators owned, and stole substantial portions of his workers’ wages. This scheme generated over $182 million in proceeds from the 7-Eleven franchise stores.” In addition, he was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution for back wages and forfeited his Long Island residence (worth over $150,000) and his rights to eighteen 7-Eleven stores in New York and Virginia. (ICE.gov, December 15, 2016)
- December 2016 — Edward J. Tutunjian, 67, owner of a Massachusetts-based taxi cab company, was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution and received 20 months of probation (18 months of which must be served at Coolidge House, a community correctional facility in Boston). Tutunjian was sentenced for hiring illegal aliens, evading taxes, failing to pay overtime wages, and assisting some employees in receiving fraudulent housing subsidies. (ICE.gov, December 13, 2016)
- December 2016 — Mohammad Abdul Wahid and Mohammed Iqbal Kabir of New York were charged with human trafficking, harboring illegal workers, and violating fair labor practices. The two men operated a Halal chicken slaughterhouse in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Illegal aliens working in unsanitary conditions “were paid approximately $290 a week in cash and would typically work 70 to 100 hours a week, working six or seven days a week. The employees were not paid more if they worked more hours, nor were they given overtime pay. The employees lived in a boarding house in front of the business, for which Wahid allegedly deducted $40 a week from the employees’ pay checks. The boarding house did not have heat or hot water and was infested with insects.” If convicted, Wahid and Kabir face a maximum of 30 and a half years in prison and over half a million dollars in fines each. (ICE.gov, December 1, 2016)
- July 2016 — A California company, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Inc., was found during an immigration audit to have 142 illegal alien workers. It agreed to discharge those workers. An audit a year later found that the company had rehired 14 of those workers using assumed new names. The Company accepted a deal in exchange for no criminal charges against the employer. In return the company agreed to enroll in the E-Verify program and pay a penalty of $1.5 million to the government. (Breibart News, July 27, 2016)
- June 2016 — Ming Fong Cheung pled guilty to employing illegal aliens and tax evasion in State College, Pennsylvania. Cheung operated Asian food restaurants. Previously, eight other Asian food operators were similarly found to employ illegal worker in State College. Cheung could be sentenced to 30 years in prison, but as a result of his plea, is more likely to be sentenced to 18-20 months. (Pennlive.com June 17, 2016)
- February 2016 — A limited liability farming company, HW Group, of Lexington County South Carolina pled guilty to illegally employing more 300-350 illegal aliens over a six year period. The company was fined one million dollars and put on probation for four years. A condition of the plea agreement is that the company enrolls in the E-Verify program. The employment of the illegal workers was proven as the result of the guilty plea in a separate legal action against a person who worked as a form of labor contractor who received weekly lump sums of cash to pay the company’s illegal workers. That person was sentenced to probation as a result of cooperating in the prosecution of the company. (The State, consulted Feb. 26, 2016)
July 2015 — Chinese Immigrant brothers Wen Ping Chen and Wen Qiu Chen pled guilty to employing and harboring illegal alien workers in the restaurants they owned in Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The brothers were put on probation for one year and ordered to forfeit the house in which they had harbored the illegal workers. (The Santa Fe New Mexican, July 2, 2015)
June 2015 — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that Broetje Orchards in Walla Walla (Eastern Washington) agreed to pay a $2.25 million dollar penalty for the continued employment of 950 illegal alien workers. This was said to be one of the largest fines ever to an agricultural employer. In an audit in 2012, Broetje was notified by ICE following a 2012 audit that it had a suspected 1,700 illegal aliens on the payroll. The firm actively lobbied Congress for adoption of an amnesty for illegal aliens so that it would be able to retain its illegal alien agricultural workers. (The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2015)
April 2015 — Farrukh Baig, who employed at least 50 illegal aliens at his 7-Eleven franchises, was sentenced to seven years in prison in New York. He pled guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring immigrants. He provided fake Social Security numbers to his employees by stealing them from minors and deceased persons. In addition, Baig also loses franchise rights to his 10 stores in New York and four stores in Virginia, as well as five houses in New York worth $1.3 million and has to pay $2.5 million in restitution for back wages to his workers. Also charged with the fraud were his wife and two brothers.(law360.com, April 27, 2015)
March 2015 — Munir Ahmad Chaudary, the owner of a hotel in Kansas, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. His sentencing followed the sentencing of his wife to 21 months imprisonment. They both had pled guilty to “conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain.” Earlier two other management employees of the hotel were also convicted. (Topeka Capital Journal, March 9, 2015)
February 2014 — The owner of Winterscapes LLC, Stanley Porter, pled guilty to visa fraud and money laundering in connection with getting visas for H-2B temporary workers. His North Carolina operation obtained visas under false pretentions and made the foreign workers available to other firms. He was sentenced to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. (Washington Post, February 20, 2014)
January 2014 — The owner of Williams Brothers Roofing and Siding Co. in Dayton Ohio pled guilty to conspiracy of recruiting, transporting and using illegal immigrant workers from Mexico, falsifying documents and wire fraud. Gregory Oldiges will get between 24 to 57 months imprisonment and forfeit more than $2 million in cash, a $500,000 house and his pickup. (The Dayton Daily News, January 7, 2014)
November 2013 — A chain of Phoenix car wash outlets that employed 1.900 persons was investigated over a two-year period and found to be employing illegal aliens with the knowledge of outlet managers. So far 11 of 14 worksite managers have pled guilty. Seven have testified that they were ordered to rehire workers who had been fired after an investigation established that they had used false documents to get the job. (Associated Press, November 18, 2013, and January 13, 2014)
September 2013 — IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to settle charges that certain of its online job postings preferred foreign workers with temporary work visas over U.S. citizens, the U.S. Department of Justice said. IBM had placed certain online job postings for application and software developers that contained citizenship status preferences for F-1 and H-1B temporary visa holders, the Justice Department said in a notification posted on its website late on Friday. The Justice Department said the job ads violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which states employers may not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status “unless required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract.” (Reuters, September 30, 2013)
September 2013 — Three persons were convicted of hiring illegal aliens to work at a restaurant in Oskaloosa, Iowa and for tax fraud. They were sentenced to two years’ probation and fines of more than $15,000. The three were Ali Bayram, Fikret Bayram, and Ali Sengul. The Bayrams, who also operated a restaurant in Pella, Iowa, were additionally charged with $10,000 fines. (Des Moines Register, September 25, 2013)
September 2013 — A Chinese immigrant pled guilty in Iowa to knowingly employing illegal aliens at the Hibachi Sushi Buffet restaurant in Waterloo. He faces a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 as well as eventual deportation. (AP September 18, 2013)
April 2013 — Rama Putra, a Pennsylvania resident, was convicted of operating an illegal alien employment business. He was sentenced to one year in prison and faces deportation upon release. His company, “H&Y Staffing Inc.” provided dozens of illegal temporary employees to businesses in the Scranton area. (ICE News Release, April 26, 2013)
March 2013 — Brothers Hector and Guillermo Fuentes, owners of three restaurants in Waterville, Maine were convicted of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit as well as aiding and abetting document fraud. About 12 illegal aliens were found working in the three restaurants and the owners helped them obtain fake ‘green cards’ and Social Security cards. They face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count and forfeiture of the gross proceeds of the violations. (Morning Sentinel, March 18, 2013)
December 2012 — PMcCalla Corp., a firm that operates six McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita, was fined $400,000 in fines and forfeitures for knowingly employing illegal aliens using fake documents. The investigation found that five of the six managers at the restaurants as well as many other employees were illegal aliens.
May 2012 — Professional Tree Services Inc., a Houston firm, agreed to pay a $2 million settlement for employing illegal aliens between 2005 and 2011. The investigation began in 2008, and it revealed that about 30 percent of the firm’s workers were illegal aliens. As part of the agreement, the firm has enrolled in the E-Verify program. (Houston Chronicle, May 18, 2012)
May 2012 — HerbCo International Inc. an organic farming company was fined $1 million for employing illegal alien workers. After an ICE audit found more than 90 workers had false work documents the company fired them. However, the company was found to have rehired many of the same workers off-the-book and paying them in cash. The CEO, Ted Andrews, and two other company officers pled guilty to misdemeanor charges. (Associated Press, May 1, 2012)
April 2012 — Marino Sandoval and his wife Nicole, owners of the El Balazo chain of taquerias in the Bay Area, were sentenced for employing illegal immigrants and for tax fraud to cover up those workers’ wages. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and she was sentenced to five years probation. Between 2007 and 2008 the chain employed more than 100 illegal immigrants. (Contra Cost Times, April 26, 2012).
April 2012 — Richard Weber, the owner of an Iowa concrete business, pled guilty to lying to an ICE officer when he said that an illegal alien employee had been terminated months previously when in fact he was still working for the company. (Des Moines Register, April 6, 2012)
March 2012 — Ivan Hardt, owner of Sun Dry Wall & Stucco Inc. of Sierra Vista, Arizona was sentenced to one year of probation in addition to a penalty of $450,000 after he pled guilty in 2011 to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. The case against Hardt and seven other defendants was brought in 2007. Five others besides Hardt have pled guilty. (AP March 29, 2012)
March 2012 — Samira Zuniga, an Iowa City co-owner of the Xtreme Construction company, was sentenced in Cedar Rapids to 18 months in prison for employing, harboring and transporting an illegal immigrant and one count of conspiracy to transport, harbor, encourage and induce illegal immigrants to live in the United States. Her husband, the other co-owner, an illegal alien from Mexico, fled to Mexico with the couple’s children. (AP March 13, 2012)
March 2012 — Humberto González, the human resources manager of Howard Industries in Mississippi, pled guilty in 2009 to conspiracy in connection with the hiring of hundreds of unauthorized immigrants at the company’s electrical transformer plant. He was sentenced to six months under house arrest. The company pled guilty to conspiracy on Feb. 24 and was fined $2.5 million. (FoxNews, March 3, 2012)
January 2012 — Two companies in Houston were each fined $2 million for employing illegal aliens. In neither case were criminal charges filed. Advanced Containment System Inc. was found to have 44 percent of its workforce comprised of illegal alien workers. The other company, Champion Window, agreed to the fine after 269 of its 451 workers were found to be illegal aliens. (Houston Chronicle, January 24, 2012)
January 2012 — The owner and manager of a San Diego-area car wash pled guilty to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Ju Hea Kim, and business manager, Sun Jae Lee, face sentences of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. (ICE Press Release, January 19, 2012)
January 2012 — A St. Louis, Mo. Company was fined $150,000 and the forfeiture of a vehicle used to transport illegal aliens for employing 10 illegal aliens. The firm, Industrial Wiping Cloths & Supplies, affiliated with J & J Industrial Supply Inc., pled guilty to knowingly and intentionally employing more than ten illegal aliens. J & J owner Jerry McArthur was found to be transporting illegal aliens when he was stopped for speeding on his return from Kansas City where he had taken five of his illegal alien employees to get Mexican identity documents from the consulate there. McArthur was not charged. (Post Dispatch, January 17, 2012)
December 2011 — Michael Malecot, a San Diego bakery owner, was sentenced to five years probation and fined $396,575 after he pled guilty to hiring and employing illegal immigrants. He had been doing so since 2003 even though he was fined by the INS in the 1990s for employing illegal aliens. He agreed to evidence proving that 91 illegal immigrants had been employed unlawfully and that he had repeatedly re-hired illegal aliens after the company received ‘no-match’ letters from the Social Security Administration notifying that the employees’ names did not match the Social Security numbers reported on tax returns. (Examiner, December 25, 2011)
December 2011 — A dairy farmer in Chenango County, NY agreed last week to pay a $3000 fine for employing undocumented workers. (North Country Public Radio, December 19, 2011)
November 2011 — Ivan Hardt, president of Sun Dry Wall & Stucco Inc., a construction contractor in southern Arizona, pled guilty to knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. He faces up to six months in prison and/or a fine of $450,000. Jose A. Gutierrez Tapia, the foreman in charge of stucco crews for the company, pled guilty to knowingly hiring at least 10 undocumented immigrants and was sentenced to two months in prison and three years of supervised release. (Latin American Herald Tribune, November 14, 2011)
October 2011 — Michel Malecot, a French-born owner of a restaurant in San Diego, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of continuing to employ illegal aliens. He could be sentenced to as much as six months in prison. He had been facing a raft of other charges and the possibility of 30 years in prison, almost $4 million in fines and the government seizure of his restaurant, the French Gourmet. Mr. Malecot’s company and one of its managers also pled guilty to a felony charge of hiring at least 10 undocumented workers. The manager, Richard Kauffmann, could be sentenced to prison for up to five years. (New York Times, October 14, 2011)
August 2011 — Janell Compton, the owner of a uniform service company in Arkansas, pled guilty to employing illegal aliens. She was sentenced to three years probation and fined $5,000. (Houston Chronicle, August 31, 2011)
August 2011 — Samira Zuniga, the owner of Xtreme Construction, an Iowa City roofing company, pled guilty to harboring and employing illegal immigrants. DHS/ICE officials arrested nine illegal immigrants working for the company in April. Zuniga faces up to 15 years in prison. (Associated Press, August 31, 2011)
August 2011 — George Valvanis, the manager of several Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Maine, pled guilty to employing illegal aliens. As a result of his plea, he was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement, a fine of $64,000 and 5 years of probation with 20 hors of community service per month. (AP August 2, 2011)
July 2011 — A Maine blueberry grower, Jasper Wyman and Son, was fined $118,000 for practices allowing the employment of illegal aliens. (Comment: The fine against the company but not individuals suggests that the fine resulted from a paperwork audit of employment practices rather than for knowingly hiring illegal alien workers.) WCSH [TV] News July 21, 2011.
July 2011 — Simon Banda-Mireles, a Mexican who illegally reentered the U.S. after deportation as Joge DeLarco, pled guilty to harboring 25 to 100 illegal aliens whom he employed in his restaurants in New York and elsewhere. He also admitted to paying those workers less than the minimum wage. He and ten of his restaurant managers were arrested in 2008. To date 6 of the managers have been convicted, and trials are pending for the other 4. Banda-Mireles was sentenced to 46 months in prison, and must pay restitution in the amount of $239,089 to 15 illegal aliens who worked for him. He also agreed to forfeit $70,009 to the government. (Observer, March 30, 2011, USCIS Press Release, July 14, 2011)
June 2011 — Federal prosecutors have asked for a fine of $475,000 be levied against the owner of a construction contractor who was convicted of knowingly employing illegal alien workers in Louisiana. Randy Weitzel pled guilty on June 3, 2011. Two others convicted at the same time were Woody Brodtmann Jr. and Agustin Arcadia. Proof submitted in the trial included the fact that in 2003 Weitzel allegedly stopped paying a worker under one name and began paying him under another name. (AP June 29, 2011)
June 2011 — Johannes and Anthonia Verhaar, owners of a dairy farm in Michigan pled guilty to employing about 80 illegal aliens between 2000 and 2007. They had been notified by the government that some employees were illegal aliens but ignored the warning. In the pleas agreement, they accepted a $2.7 million penalty and face a possible six months in prison. (AP, June 28, 2011)
April 2011 — An Iowa dairy farmer, Kenneth Birker, was fined $150,000 following a guilty plea to knowingly employing illegal aliens. The case dates from 2006 when the illegal aliens were detained by immigration authorities. (Iowa Independent, April 22, 2011)
March 2011 — Rick M. Vartanian, the owner of a California furniture company was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined $15,000 for employing illegal aliens. He was also convicted of obstruction of justice. USCIS investigators were told by the owner in 2009 that illegal alien workers found at the plant during an earlier audit were no longer employed when in fact they were still on the payroll. The company’s vice president also pled guilty to one count of employing illegal workers and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and was put on probation for one year. (Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2011)
December 2010 — The owner of a sandwich shop in the Dallas suburb of Rockwell pled guilty to employing illegal aliens from 1997 to 2008. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $18,000. (Associated Press, December 15, 2010)
December 2010 — The owner of several Dunkin’ Donuts outlets in Portland, Maine pled guilty to engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring illegal immigrants (18 aliens) between 2001 and 2009 and lying on an immigration document. He faces a maximum prison term of 5 years on the falsifying charge and 6 months on the hiring charge. (Maine Public Broadcasting Network, December 14, 2010)
December, 2010 — Christine Huang, the manager of China Buffet Mongolian Grill in Poplar Bluff, Missouri pled guilty to harboring, transporting, and employing illegal aliens from Mexico and China, as well as conspiracy to commit visa fraud by trying to arrange marriage for one illegal alien to secure a visa. She obtained fake IDs for some of her employees. (KAIT-TV, December 12, 2010)
November 2010 — Bao Ping Wang and Trang “Tammy” Lu, owners of Hi-Tech Trucking, Inc. in Richmond Virginia, were sentenced to 18 months in prison for employing and harboring illegal aliens and were fined $1.2 million. (ICE news release, November 23, 2010)
November 2010 — Jesse Fadick, the owner of the S & S Bakery in San Diego pled guilty to knowingly hiring illegal alien workers. Under a plea agreement, Fadick will serve 5 years of probation and forfeit $800,000. The plea resulted from a year-long investigation by ICE and DHS Investigations and the arrest of 45 illegal immigrants in October.
November 2010 — Phung Ca Long, the owner of a restaurant in Cedar River, Iowa was convicted of “harboring illegal aliens for commercial gain,” i.e. employing them, and faces up to 15 years imprisonment. She also pled guilty to false Medicaid statements.
August 2010 — Ann Cox, a former FBI agent, agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of employing six illegal immigrants during periods from 1997 to 2008 at a deli in Rockwall, Texas she owned. The charges against Cox can carry six months in prison and a $3,000 fine for each illegal hiring, but, if the judge accepts Cox’s plea agreement, she could receive five years’ probation. (Dallas Morning News, August 20, 2010)
May 2010 — Robert Lane Camp, a landscape business owner was sentenced to three months in prison and an additional three months of house arrest for harboring an illegal immigrant. He told the federal judge that thought it was just a civil violation that he employed the worker, who he knew was illegally present. The illegal employment came to light because the alien, who had previously been deported, murdered a Houston police officer following his arrest. (Houston Chronicle, May 10, 2010).
April 2010 — Larry Gunsorek, president and founding partner of Anchor Management Group in central Ohio pled guilty to allowing undocumented workers to do renovation, construction, landscaping and maintenance work at properties his company managed. He was sentenced to two years’ probation including six months of in-home confinement and fined $2,000. (Columbus Dispatch, April 16, 2010).
March 2010 — Juan Nuno-Ramirez, the owner of three Guadalajara Restaurants in Billings, MT pled guilty to helping illegal aliens obtain fraudulent immigration documents and knowingly hiring them. One of the illegal aliens was his sister. (The Great Falls Tribune, March 16, 2010).
March 2010 — The owner of a Danny’s Subway sandwich shop in Phoenix is the first firm sanctioned under the state’s law against knowingly employing an illegal alien. The shop is required to suspend operations for two days for a first offense. The penalty arose after federal immigration authorities found that the owner had re-employed an illegal alien worker after firing the worker when informed by the federal authorities the worker was illegal. The owner of the franchise was fined $431 by the federal government. (The Arizona Republic, March 10, 2010).
March 2010 — Ramon Ornelas, the owner of eight Casa Fiesta Mexican restaurants across northern Ohio pled guilty last month to harboring illegal immigrants and filing false tax returns. He faces a sentence of at least one year in prison. Ornelas had been involved in a previous case a decade earlier of hiring illegal alien workers. In a raid of the restaurants, 64 illegal aliens were detained, and about 55 have already been deported. Some workers said they worked 12-hour days, six days a week and were paid $500 to $600 in cash every two weeks, i.e. about $3.50 to $4 an hour. (The Plain Dealer, March 8, 2010)
February 2010 — US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced an agreement with Koch Food Inc. in which the firm agreed to pay a fine of more than $536,000 stemming from a 2007 raid at its plant in Southwest Ohio in which 161 illegal alien workers were apprehended. (Associated Press, February 12, 2010)