denver paving company sentenced for violating the law by hiring illegal aliens
DENVER – Premier Paving, Inc., a Denver corporation, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe on January 28, 2014 to pay $184,916.58 in forfeiture of criminal proceeds for their criminal practice of hiring illegal aliens. The money will go to the Department of Transportation federal highway fund.
Premier Paving was charged by misdemeanor Information on August 21, 2013. An executive, Russ Otterstein, on behalf of the corporation, signed an agreement on October 9, 2013, where the company pled guilty to engaging in the practice of hiring illegal aliens. On January 28, 2014, the corporation was sentenced.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, the defendant is a Colorado corporation. From January 2007 through September 2012, the defendant hired and continued to employ aliens knowing that some of those aliens were not authorized to work in the United States. During this period, PPI hired aliens who lacked the documents required by law to complete an employment eligibility verification form (I-9). In 2007, ICE audited Premier Paving’s employment records, finding violations of hiring employees not authorized to work in the U.S. That investigation resulted in the company entering a settlement agreement with ICE on June 8, 2008 where the company agreed to pay $11,000. The agreement also stated that Premier Paving “can hire only United States citizens and aliens authorized to work in the United States.”
Subsequent to entering into that settlement agreement with ICE, Premier Paving, working with a Denver entity known as Servicios de Migracion Para Todos. As a result of that relationship, Premier Paving again began employing aliens unauthorized to work in the U.S. Another review by ICE in September 2012 determined that the company employed unauthorized workers, and failed to adequately complete I-9 forms for a number of employees hired between January 1, 2011 and September 20, 2012. Some of the employees performed work on federal transportation contracts. After ICE conducted a criminal investigation, the misdemeanor charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. Premier Paving has established new procedures to ensure compliance with federal immigration-related employment laws as a result of this prosecution.
“This is the second time Premier Paving has had to pay for knowingly employing illegal aliens since 2008,” said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “Homeland Security Investigations helps ensure that these unscrupulous employers don’t gain an unfair advantage over their competition by knowingly hiring illegal workers who are paid less.”
“This sentencing sends a clear message of the severe penalties in store for those who act in a criminally irresponsible manner,” said Max Smith, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General regional Special Agent in Charge. “Both DOT and the OIG are committed to ensuring fair competition for parties seeking to do business with the Department. We will continue to vigorously investigate and work with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to see that those who violate criminal laws are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
This case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General (DOT OIG).
The corporation was prosecuted by ICE Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Gibson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Andrews handled the forfeiture.