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Texas construction company agrees to pay millions in fines while owners face jail time for hiring illegal immigrants

'We will not allow employers to flout our laws'

AndreyPopov | Getty Images

A Texas-based construction company will pay a high price over efforts to hire illegal immigrants and then cover up its illegal workforce, and its owners may end up doing hard time.

In a Monday news release, the United States Attorney's office for the Northern District of Texas said that Speed Fab Concrete has agreed to pay the federal government $3 million over the course of the next five years in relation a scheme to hire illegal alien workers. The payout is part of a non-prosecution agreement which also requires the company to continue using E-Verify to hire employees and complete company-wide immigration compliance training, among other conditions.

"An inspection revealed these defendants knowingly hired dozens of unauthorized workers, in flagrant disregard of U.S. law," said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox in a statement. "Worse yet, rather than working with ICE to resolve their violations, they attempted to deceive the government."

Citing defendants' plea documents and a statement from the company, the Justice Department explains that an investigation of hiring documents revealed that over a third of the company's 106 employees were not authorized to work in the United States legally. It was at that point that the company entered an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fix the situation by replacing the illegal workers with legal ones.

After they entered the agreement they went to Take Charge Staffing, a temp agency that had a hard time filling the jobs legally. After several months, the agency's owner agreed with a request from one of Speed Fab's owners to simply place the illegal workers on the agency's payroll and send them back to work for Speed Fab. After this arrangement began, the construction company told the feds that the unauthorized workers no longer worked for them.

"Each of the individuals and the company admitted that this was a false and misleading statement to the government," the DOJ release points out.

Five people, including Speed Fab's three owners and the owner of the temp agency, have already pleaded guilty to immigration charges related to the scheme, the release says. Currently, two of those defendants in the matter are facing up to five years in prison, while the other three are facing up to six months in prison. They will each have to pay a $69,000 fine, per the plea agreements.

"All three of Speed Fab Crete's officials pleaded guilty to federal charges, in connection to them knowingly hiring unauthorized workers, and attempting to deceive the government," said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations office in Dallas. "And now they are paying the price for their criminal conduct."

Spradlin added that investigations like this one "serve as a warning to business owners willing to hire an illegitimate workforce. You can not only expect a hefty fine but a prison sentence as well."

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