A Michigan dairy farm and its two owners recently plead guilty to charges of employing illegal aliens, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
ICE reported Johannes Martinus Verhaar and Anthonia Marjanne Verhaar own Aquila Farms LLC., a dairy operation based in Bad Axe, Mich.
Court records revealed from about 2000 through 2007, the dairy employed 78 different illegal aliens, which constituted almost 75 percent of its workforce. Aquila Farms failed to conduct the necessary inquiries to determine the employment eligibility of its workforce, as required by federal immigration laws.(WCxKit)
"Criminal charges and fines are among the government's most effective tools to ensure employers maintain a legal workforce," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. "The charges and significant fines here represent HSI's firm commitment to holding employers accountable."
According to the investigation, of the 78 illegal aliens hired by the Verhaars, some were hired on multiple occasions using different names or social security numbers despite the Verhaars' being notified by both the Social Security Administration and ICE that its employees were not authorized to work in the United States. The defendants encouraged or induced the illegal aliens to reside in the United States by providing them with employment and free housing on the farm, away from scrutiny by ICE and the surrounding community.
As part of the agreement reached with the government, the Verhaars pleaded guilty to hiring illegal aliens, a charge that carries a term of imprisonment of up to six months and a $3,000 fine per hire. Aquila Farms plead guilty to harboring illegal aliens, a felony which carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and additional fines.(WCxKit)
The Verhaars and Aquila Farms agreed to pay fines and a payment in lieu of forfeiture totaling $2,734,000.
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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