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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2011 Press Release Index
    Release No. 11-034

    March 10, 2011

    INLAND EMPIRE FURNITURE COMPANY EXEC SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR HIRING ILLEGAL WORKERS

    LOS ANGELES – The president of a Rancho Cucamonga furniture manufacturing business has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for his conviction on two criminal counts related to the hiring of unauthorized alien workers.

    Rick M. Vartanian, 57, of Ladera Ranch, the president and primary shareholder of Brownwood Furniture, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty last year to two criminal charges. Vartanian was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Gary Feess, who also ordered Vartanian to pay a $15,000 fine.

    Vartanian pleaded guilty in December to obstruction of justice and continuing to employ illegal aliens, charges that result from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations. According to court documents, in November 2009, Vartanian told ICE agents that unauthorized workers identified during the agency’s earlier audit were no longer employed by the company. In reality, 18 of those individuals continued to work for the business and the company took steps to shield them from detection by HSI.

    In addition to Vartanian, Brownwood Furniture’s vice president was also charged in the case. Michael Patrick Eberly, 48, of Alta Loma, pleaded guilty in December to one count of continuing to employ unauthorized workers. Eberly was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

    The charges against Vartanian and Eberly stem from an investigation that began after ICE received an anonymous tip that Brownwood furniture was using unauthorized labor. An audit of the company’s hiring records in July 2009 revealed that 61 of the firm’s 73 employees had submitted invalid documents to obtain their jobs. After ICE notified the company about the discrepancies, the executives told investigators that the unauthorized workers had been terminated. However, when agents executed a search warrant at the business in December 2009, they encountered 30 unauthorized workers, 18 of whom had purportedly been terminated following the July audit.

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    Release No. 11-034
    Return to the 2011 Press Release Index