Thursday, July 17, 2008

McDonald's Franchisee Agrees to Whopper of a Fine...

I know, I know, I apologize for the headline but it was impossible NOT to do it.

The most telling part about this news is its source: released on PR Newswire by the USG, which used the opportunity to boast of the $31 million in criminal
fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite
related enforcement actions collected in FY 2007.

Ouch.  I've edited out a little fluff but left in most of it so you can see just how serious the USG is working to instill fear in the hearts of employers who are NOT maintaining workplace compliance rules.  Save yourself a million bucks and contact Terry at i9 Advantage and let us get your compliance in order

McDonalds Franchisee Admits to Two Felony Counts - Agrees to Pay
$1 Million Fine

Two executives from a company which owns 11 McDonalds restaurants in the Reno, Nevada area pleaded
pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Vegas today to federal felony
immigration offenses for "encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the
United States".


U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Gregory A. Brower and
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE Julie L.
Myers announced the plea agreements, which are the latest
developments in an ICE probe that began in March 2007 after the
agency received a tip about a possible incidence of identity theft
from the sheriffs office in Lyon County, Nev.


Attorneys for Mack Associates Inc., which owns
the Reno-area McDonalds restaurants, pleaded guilty on behalf of the
franchisee to one count of conspiracy to encourage and induce an
aliens unlawful residence in the United States and one count of
aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the United States, both
felony offenses. Joe Gillespie, 53, of Sparks, Nev., the Director of
Operations for Mack Associates Inc., also pleaded guilty to one
count of aiding and abetting an alien to remain in the United
States. Both defendants waived indictment by a federal grand jury
and agreed to plead guilty to criminal informations.


The government and Mack Associates agreed that the corporation
will pay a $1 million fine -- $500,000 for each count, the maximum
allowed -- and be placed on probation during the period that the
fine is outstanding. The court accepted this agreement and sentenced
Mack Associates today to one year of probation and ordered the
corporation to pay the agreed upon fine, with $300,000 payable
immediately and the balance to be paid within nine months.


The plea agreement details how Mack Associates management
employed individuals they knew were in the country illegally,
including two restaurant managers, by furnishing them with names and
Social Security numbers belonging to other individuals.


In addition, Jimmy Moore, 47, the franchisees former vice-
president, pleaded guilty to one felony count of inducing an illegal
alien to remain in the United States. At sentencing, Moore faces a
maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


A third defendant in the case, Anntoinette Richmond, 44, the
corporations controller, has been charged with one misdemeanor count
of continuing employment of an unauthorized alien.


This case should serve as a reminder to employers that knowingly
hiring illegal aliens violates federal law, said U.S. Attorney
Brower. Companies and their managers who engage in such conduct are
on notice that violations will be prosecuted and that the criminal
penalties can be significant.


This investigation clearly shows our resolve to pursue those who
willfully violate our nations hiring laws, regardless of their place
on the corporate ladder, said Assistant Secretary Myers. On
television, criminal cases are wrapped up in an hour; but in real
life, these investigations are complex and can take months, or even
years, to build. We will invest whatever time it takes to ensure
that those who flout the law are brought to justice.


In September 2007, ICE agents executed federal search warrants at
the 11 McDonalds restaurants owned by Mack Associates in the Reno
area and at the franchisees corporate office. During the operation,
agents encountered 58 illegal aliens who were working illegally at
the McDonalds restaurants. The illegal alien workers were arrested
on administrative immigration violations and processed for removal.
Approximately 30 of those workers have been returned to their native
countries. The remaining illegal workers were provided with
documentation allowing them to remain in the United States pending
the outcome of the criminal investigation.


Since its establishment in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced
its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in
this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement
is aimed at promoting national security and public safety,
protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor
standards.


Thus far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through July 11,
2008), ICE has made 937 criminal arrests in connection with worksite
enforcement investigations. Of those, 99 involve owners, managers,
supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging
from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to
the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 3,500 administrative
arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in
that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in
worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal
violations. Last years figure represents a 45-fold increase in
criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. Furthermore,
in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal
fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite
related enforcement actions."



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