By R. Mitchell –
DALLAS – The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a North Texas concrete manufacturing company that agreed to forfeit $3 million back in January was sentenced June 16 for his role in a scheme to employ illegal aliens.
Robert James, CFO for Speed Fab-Crete in Kennedale, Texas, was sentenced to three months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $69,000 fine for bringing in and harboring illegal aliens.
Mark Sevier, the owner of Take Charge Staffing, and Speed Fab-Crete’s three owners, Carl Eugene Hall, Ronald Alan Hamm, and David Leon Bloxom, all previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme and are awaiting their sentences.
In January, Speed Fab-Crete signed a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, admitting it illegally employed individuals not authorized to work in the United States and agreed to forfeit $3 million to the U.S. Treasury. The company also pledged to continue to use E-Verify, the federal government’s web-based employment eligibility verification system; to comply with new internal verification procedures; to conduct company-wide training on immigration compliance; and to discipline those who attempt to employ unauthorized workers. Hall, Hamm, and Bloxom are jointly and severally liable for the full amount if Speed Fab-Crete does not fulfill its financial obligations under the non-prosecution agreement.
“This is only one of more sentencings to come in a criminal case where a business, which hired illegal aliens, mistakenly thought it could succeed in deceiving the government,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas. “When businesses knowingly hire an illegal workforce, it threatens the integrity of our country’s immigration system, economic health and puts the security of our homeland at risk.”
According to their plea papers and Speed Fab-Crete’s factual statement, the defendants admitted that 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.
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 United States, Speed Fab-Crete entered into a settlement with HSI, pledging to rectify the situation.
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, Hall asked Sevier 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. At the time, Sevier refused, promising to supply legal workers instead.
Over the ensuing six months, Sevier and Take Charge did not replace Speed Fab-Crete’s unauthorized workers and in September 2016, Sevier agreed to Hall’s plan.
On Sept. 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. 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 Hall authorized.
On Oct. 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.
Hall and Sevier are facing up to five years in federal prison. Bloxom and Hamm 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, which is the statutory maximum.
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