Labor & Employment Law Daily Construction company to pay $3M under non-prosecution agreement for employing undocumented workers
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Friday, January 31, 2020

Construction company to pay $3M under non-prosecution agreement for employing undocumented workers

By WK Editorial Staff

Speed Fab Crete’s three owners and its CFO, as well as a staffing company’s owner, previously pleaded guilty; all face prison time.

Speed Fab Crete has agreed to pay the federal government $3 million for its role in a scheme to illegally employ undocumented workers. The agreement follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Five businessmen previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, according to ICE.

In a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the North Texas construction company admitted it illegally employed individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. Speed Fab Crete also agreed to forfeit $3 million to the U.S. Treasury for use in promoting law enforcement activities related to immigration enforcement.

More about the non-prosecution agreement. Under the agreement, which requires Speed Fab Crete to cooperate with the government to ensure it will not violate immigration laws in the future, the company also pledged to: continue using E-Verify; comply with new internal verification procedures; conduct company-wide training on immigration compliance; and discipline those who attempt to employ unauthorized workers.

The company’s three owners are jointly and severally liable for the full amount if Speed Fab Crete does not fulfill its financial obligations under the non-prosecution agreement.

Guilty pleas entered. Earlier this month, one of Speed Fab Crete’s owners pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully harbor illegal aliens, a felony. The owner of Take Charge Staffing, a temp agency used by Speed Fab Crete, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully harbor illegal aliens. Speed Fab Crete’s other two owners and the company’s chief financial officer pleaded guilty to unlawful employment of illegal aliens, a misdemeanor offense.

The plea documents and Speed Fab Crete’s factual statement showed that the defendants admitted they attempted to disguise the employment of unauthorized workers at Speed Fab Crete by placing them on the payroll of Take Charge Staffing, then lied to the government, stating that the unauthorized workers had been terminated from employment at Speed Fab Crete.

Earlier agreement. After an I-9 inspection of Speed Fab Crete’s employment records revealed that 43 of the company’s 106 employees were individuals not authorized to work in the U.S., Speed Fab Crete then entered into a settlement with HSI, pledging to rectify the situation.

Chance to rectify turns into illegal scheme. HSI agreed not to conduct any subsequent I-9 inspection for six months, giving Speed Fab Crete the time and opportunity to rectify the situation by employing legal workers. In furtherance of that effort, in February 2016, the owners of Speed Fab Crete met with Take Charge Staffing to discuss replenishing their workforce. Initially, one of the owners of Speed Fab Crete asked Take Charge Staffing’s owner to transfer the illegal aliens from Speed Fab Crete’s payroll system onto Take Charge Staffing’s payroll, and have them assigned to Speed Fab Crete, according to ICE. At the time, however, the staffing company’s owner refused, promising to supply legal workers instead.

Over the next six months, the Take Charge’s owner and the staffing company struggled to find employees to replace Speed Fab Crete’s unauthorized workers. In September 2016, Take Charge Staffing’s owner agreed to the Speed Fab Crete owner’s plan. On Friday, September 23, 2016, Speed Fab Crete simultaneously terminated 39 unauthorized workers and sent 23 of them straight to Take Charge Staffing, where they were hired and assigned to Speed Fab Crete, ICE explained. All 23 returned to work at Speed Fab Crete the following Monday.

From September 2016 until August 2017, Take Charge Staffing sent invoices for the unauthorized workers to Speed Fab Crete—all of which one of Speed Fab Crete’s owners authorized.

False and misleading follow-up. On October 11, 2016, Speed Fab Crete followed up with HSI, sending a letter that read all 39 of the unauthorized workers had been released and were “no longer working at Speed Fab Crete Corporation.” Each of the individuals and the company admitted that this was a false and misleading statement to the government.

Facing federal imprisonment. One of Speed Fab Crete’s owners and Take Charge Staffing’s owner are facing up to five years in federal prison. Speed Fab Crete’s other two owners and its CFO 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, the statutory maximum, ICE said.

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