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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

"How Bad Can It Get?" Recent Penalties for Immigration Violations

by Christine Mehfoud

Clients often ask, “What’s the risk of not complying with immigration law?” In essence, what they’re asking is how much it will cost if they don’t get it right. So, I thought it might be helpful to look at some recent immigration-related penalties to illustrate what’s at stake.

The penalties will of course be fact-dependent, and, as you know, the good faith of the employer can have an enormous impact, but generally speaking, sentences for employers range from up to six months in prison for knowingly hiring an illegal worker to 10 years for harboring one. Also, other charges and additional penalties can be tacked on for crimes like tax evasion, money laundering, bank fraud and false statements that stem from what began as an immigration-related investigation. Immigration violations also carry significant civil fines of up to $16,000 per worker.

But jail time and fines are not the only significant penalties. Asset forfeiture, debarment, and reinstatement requirements can also be added on, and there is also the indirect damage from lost productivity, attorneys’ fees and negative publicity.

To put these penalties in real terms, see these examples from recent cases:

Company

Date

Charge

Prison Time

Monetary Penalties

HerbCo International, Inc.

May 2012

Knowingly hiring

 

 

$1,000,000

Atrium Companies (Champion Window and Advanced Containment Systems, Inc. (ACSI))

January 2012

Knowingly hiring

 

$2,000,000

forfeited funds

University of California San Diego Medical Center

January 2012

Discrimination in employment eligibility verification process

 

$115,000

Aguila Farms, LLC

November 2011

Knowingly hiring and aiding and abetting (owner)

Harboring (company)

 

3 years probation (owners)

5 years probation (company)

$2,000,000 forfeited funds (company)

$234,000 fines (owners)

$500,000 fine (company)

YCL, Inc. (The Gateway Hotel)

October 2011

Conspiracy to smuggle, transport and/or harbor, money laundering and tax fraud (owner)

Conspiracy to smuggle and harbor (company)

 

15 years (owner)

5 years probation (company)

Over $2,300,000 fine (owner)

Over $480,000 restitution (owner)

Over $870,000 money judgment (company)

$5,000 fine (company)

Farmland Foods

August 2011

Discrimination in employment eligibility verification process

 

$290,400

Howard Industries

February 2011

Conspiracy to conceal, harbor and shield

 

$2,500,000

Hi-Tech Trucking

November 2010

Hire and harbor illegal aliens

 

18 months (owners)

2 years probation (owners)

Over $1,200,000 forfeit and $100,000 fine

Catholic Healthcare West

October 2010

Discrimination in employment eligibility verification process

 

$257,000

Abercrombie & Fitch

September 2010

Violations of obligation to verify employment eligibility of workers (technology-related deficiencies in I-9 verification system)

 

$1,000,000

Pilgrim’s Pride

December 2009

Hiring and employment of illegal aliens

 

$4,500,000

Agriprocessors

June 2010

March 2009

 

Aiding and abetting in harboring (supervisor)

Bank fraud, false statements, money laundering (company)

 

 

27 years (former CEO)

 23 months (supervisor)

1 year + 2 years supervised release (manager)

2 years probation (manager)

$26,000,000 restitution

 

IFCO Systems

December 2008

Hiring and employment of illegal aliens; Overtime violations;

Conspiring to harbor illegal aliens (managers)

 

16 managers and executives convicted; 5 sentenced to pay a fine and the remaining 11 await sentencing

Over $20,000,000

This post originally appeared on May 7 at Subject to Inquiry


About The Author

Christine Mehfoud focuses her practice on representing and advising businesses and individuals in the area of white collar criminal defense and internal corporate investigations. She advises clients facing investigations and enforcement actions by various state and federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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