The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the sentencing of a Florida business owner for his participation in a decades-long criminal operation involving the recruitment of undocumented workers for personal profit. The sentencing highlights the significant repercussions of immigration-related crimes and the ongoing efforts of the Department of Justice to target and prosecute business practices that violate U.S. immigration law and tax law.
Allegations of Fraud, Money Laundering, and Immigration Violations
The DOJ’s press release stated the business owner operated a number of staffing agencies across Southern Florida. From court documents and evidence presented at trial, between 2007 and 2021, he facilitated employment across multiple industries by individuals who were not authorized to work in the United States. Through his agencies, he arranged for the unlawful employment of the undocumented individuals in various industries throughout Southern Florida.
The scheme defrauded the Internal Revenue Service out of more than $25 million in tax income that would have been paid out for the employment of documented persons over the course of decades. Furthermore, after profiting from the scheme, the business owner sent checks and wires totaling over $11 million to conspirators overseas. Following trial in the Southern District of Florida, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison plus three years of supervised release. Additionally, Judge Jose E. Martinez will enter a forfeiture judgment against him. The investigation and trial involved multiple agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division noted the defendant’s “illegal staffing and money laundering operation lasted more than a decade and cost the government millions of dollars in unpaid payroll taxes. Employers who will follow the rules and pay their fair share of taxes deserve to compete on a level playing field. Those who cut corners and evade their legal obligations should know they will be investigated and prosecuted.”
Unfortunately, the scheme involved the deliberate targeting and manipulation of undocumented workers in the United States. Generally, for a noncitizen to work in the United States, they must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request employment authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”). Obtaining an EAD is complicated but ensures that the worker is documented and pays their share of payroll taxes.
Crackdowns on Unlawful Employment Practices
The sentencing highlights the DOJ’s continued crackdown against businesses that seek to gain an unfair advantage by violating employment and immigration laws. Accordingly, businesses must ensure careful compliance with the law to avoid unwanted attention from federal investigators.
©2022 Norris McLaughlin P.A., All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 271