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December 19, 2006

Corporate Executives Plead Guilty to Illegal Hiring Practices

More enforcement news from ICE;

News Release, December 15, 2006

SAN DIEGO - Two corporate executives at a California fence building company pleaded guilty Thursday to the hiring of unauthorized alien workers, following a multi-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As part of the guilty plea, Golden State Fence Company agreed to forfeit $4.7 million gained from its illegal activities. In addition, Golden State's President, Melvin Kay, and Vice-President Michael McLaughlin, will pay fines of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Golden State Fence Company, which builds fences for residential, commercial, and military projects throughout California, was first notified in writing that at least 15 of its employees at its Oceanside officer were unauthorized alien workers following a visit by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials in July 1999.

At that time, Golden State stated they were terminating these employees. However, in September 2004, ICE officials again determined that at least 49 Golden State employees at the Oceanside office were unauthorized aliens. Three of these employees were among those listed in the 1999 notice as unauthorized alien workers.

In June and September 2005, ICE agents observed unauthorized aliens listed in the 1999 and 2004 notices working at the Oceanside office. Then in August 2005, ICE agents inspected Golden State's Riverside, California office. ICE agents again found that at least three of the employees working in the Riverside office were unauthorized aliens who were listed in the 1999 notice as unauthorized alien workers.

In November 2005, ICE agents executed search warrants at the Oceanside and Riverside offices. Agents seized evidence showing these offices engaged in a pattern of hiring unauthorized alien workers. From September 2004 to September 2005, records maintained by Golden State revealed that the company hired more than ten unauthorized alien workers that had been listed in either the 1999 or 2004 notices.

Social security records also showed that hundreds of the names and social security numbers Golden State provided for its employees did not match the Social Security Administration's records.

During the execution of the search warrants, ICE agents arrested 16 employees who were unauthorized alien workers. When interviewed, many of Golden State's former employees stated they were unauthorized alien workers, that Golden State's managers knew they were unauthorized workers and Golden State hired them despite their illegal status.

“This settlement and guilty plea clearly show that employers who knowingly and blatantly hire illegal workers will pay dearly for such transgressions," said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE Julie Myers. "In 2006, ICE tripled the number of arrests made in conjunction with worksite-related investigations and we will be expanding our focus in this arena further in the year ahead."

United States Attorney Carol Lam whose office prosecuted this case said, “Employers have long known that it is a federal crime to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. They now also know that we are serious about prosecuting the crime.”

At sentencing, Kay and McLaughlin face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

ICE was assisted in the investigation by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Social Security Administration and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

-- ICE --

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of four integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.

Posted by VisaLawyer at December 19, 2006 06:46 AM

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