Eurofresh admits 17 employees were illegal

Discussion in 'Immigration/Illegal Immigration' started by Angelhair, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. Angelhair
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    Angelhair Senior Member

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    Willcox-based tomato-grower Eurofresh Inc. pleaded guilty Friday to knowingly hiring and continuing to employ "at least 17" illegal immigrants in supervisory-level positions.

    The company also agreed to pay $600,000 in forfeitures to the federal government over the next five years, and to be on probation until the money is paid.

    The plea agreement was reached between Eurofresh and the U.S. Attorney's Office after an investigation dating to the past decade into the company's hiring practices. The investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and federal prosecutors.

    There are contradictory statements about the case, however, between Eurofresh, its plea agreement and its former human-resources director. Those contradictions pertain to how many employees were illegally hired, precisely when that hiring occurred, and whether top Eurofresh officials knew of the illegal hiring at that time, or whether it was done by their then-human-resources director, Kenneth Ward, without their knowledge.

    Ward pleaded guilty to similar federal charges in 2007 and is awaiting sentencing. In his guilty plea, he alleged that four top company officials, whom he didn't name, knew of the illegal hiring and that the number of employees illegally hired was more than 1,000.

    But Eurofresh's CEO, Johan van den Berg, denied all those allegations in response to questions Friday from the Star. Van den Berg said Ward was fired more than four years ago after the company learned he had been bringing in illegal immigrant employees without higher officials' knowledge.

    The new plea agreement says Eurofresh admitted that from about August 2000 until December 2006, the company, through its human-resources director, "engaged in a pattern and practice of hiring or employing unauthorized workers" from Mexico because of labor shortages at the Eurofresh farms. Such shortages are a common problem for commercial farmers in the United States.

    "This judgment is a message to other employers who engage in illegal practices that there is a real cost to their actions," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke in a news release Friday.

    Friday's plea agreement does not say directly whether the company's top management knew of the illegal hirings. It refers only to what it calls the company's "imputed knowledge" of the hirings.

    In response to questions after the plea agreement was filed in U.S. District Court, however, Eurofresh's van den Berg said the then-human-resources director, Ward, hired those 17 employees without company executives' knowledge. He said the hirings occurred only from 2000 through 2003, three fewer years than the plea agreement said.

    http://azstarnet.com/business/local/article_cf9e2668
     
  2. whitehall
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    whitehall Gold Member

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    Doesn't the dept.of homeland security have better things to do than investigate tomato growers? Is federal law enforcement confused about their mission?
     
  3. percysunshine
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    percysunshine Gold Member

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    I thought Euro-fresh was an Amsterdam brothel.

    Learn something new every day.
     

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