U.S. seeks the forfeiture of a business employing illegal aliens

worksite investigations resulted in a total of 410 criminal arrests, including 114 management personnel.

James G. Aldrich of the Detroit-based law firm of Dickinson Wright writes that this was not an isolated event, and that ICE has recently taken similar actions:

Missouri Roofing Company. On 3 February 2010, the owner of a Bolivar, Missouri, roofing company was sentenced in federal court to forfeit more than $180,000.00 and pay a $36,000.00 fine for knowingly hiring illegal aliens following a worksite enforcement investigation conducted by ICE.

Russell D. Taylor pleaded guilty on 14 September 2009 to knowingly hiring, contracting, and sub-contracting to hire illegal aliens from August 2006 through April 2008.

The court ordered Taylor to forfeit to the government $185,363.00, which represented the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offense, and to pay a fine of $36,000, representing a $3,000 fine for each of the twelve illegal aliens who worked under company supervision. A company supervisor also pleaded guilty in a separate but related case to harboring illegal aliens. Taylor was also sentenced to serve five years of probation, implement an employment-compliance plan and pay the $185,363 forfeiture amount in monthly installments during the first 30 months of probation.

Hanover, Maryland Restaurant. On 16 February 2010 the owner of a Hanover, Maryland, Chinese restaurant was arrested and charged with transporting, employing and harboring illegal aliens.

The criminal complaint alleges that between January, 2009 and 4 February 2010, Yen Wan Cheng knowingly hired aliens who were not authorized to work in the United States, transported the aliens to their jobs, and harbored them in residences she provided. According to the criminal complaint, five aliens were specifically identified during the investigation as working at the restaurant and residing in a home Cheng owns in Columbia, Maryland.

She faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison for employing illegal aliens and five years in prison each for transporting illegal aliens, harboring aliens and harboring aliens for financial gain.

Reno, Nevada Electronics Firm. On 4 March 2010 the owner of a Reno, Nevada, electronics manufacturing company was indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States and aiding and abetting.

According to the indictment, between March 2005 and May 2009, Hamid Ali Zaidi, owner of Vital Systems Corporation, allegedly encouraged six illegal aliens to work at his company and therefore to reside in the United States, knowing that such residence was in violation of federal law.

If convicted, Zaidi faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Baltimore, Maryland Restaurants. On 11 March 2010 ICE agents in Baltimore conducted enforcement operations at two Maryland restaurants, one office and several residences as part of an ongoing investigation.

ICE agents arrested twenty-nine undocumented aliens for being unlawfully present in the United States.

Beaufort County South Carolina, Restaurants and Residences. On 24 March 2010 ICE reported its agents and Beaufort, South Carolina, County Sheriff’s Office ICE Task Force officers executed search warrants at two Jade Garden Chinese restaurants in Bluffton, South Carolina, and several residences, arresting 15 workers who are in the country illegally. The owner of the restaurant, an ICE immigration fugitive, was also arrested.

The criminal investigation into this case is ongoing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will make a determination on whether federal criminal charges will be pursued.