Top Executives Plead Guilty to Hiring Illegal Aliens
by Jim Kouri, CPP
In an effort by the US authorities to show the nation that hiring illegal aliens is serious business, two corporate executives at a California fence building company pleaded guilty last week to the hiring of illegal alien workers, following a multi-year federal investigation
As part of the guilty plea, the Golden State Fence Company, based in San Diego, 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 office were unauthorized alien workers following a visit by Immigration 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 Julie Myers in a statement released Friday.
"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," she said.
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. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were assisted in the investigation by the US Border Patrol, the Social Security Administration and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.