News and Press Releases

THREE SUB-CONTRACTORS SENTENCED FOR EMPLOYING ILLEGAL ALIENS IN MIAMI-DADE SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Chris Mazzella, Inspector General, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Office of Inspector General (MD-OIG), announced today’s sentencing of three defendants on charges of harboring undocumented aliens who were working on a Miami-Dade school construction project.

Luis Daniel, 59, president of Hialeah-based Daniel Builders, Inc., his wife Marta Duque, 57, and his son, Ariel Daniel, 26, were sentenced earlier today by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro. Luis Daniel was sentenced to 21 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Marta Duque was sentenced to two years of supervised release, including eight months of home confinement. Ariel Daniel was sentenced to five years’ probation. All three defendants were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $76,317.

In addition, the defendants must pay a civil fine to ICE of $121,086 for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for their failure to verify the employment eligibility of its workers. The fine is the result of an October 2010 Form I-9 ICE inspection of Daniel Builders.

In February 2009, ICE and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of Inspector General initiated an investigation receiving allegations that undocumented aliens, as well as lawful residents and U.S. citizens, were paid substandard wages at a construction project at Southside Elementary School in Miami. Daniel Builders, Inc. was the sub-contractor awarded a $2.7 million contract at Southside Elementary School. The investigation confirmed that the construction workers at the project did not receive overtime wages and that no social security and income taxes were deducted from their paychecks.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said, “All employers must follow the law. This not only ensures fair competition among businesses in a level playing field, but also protects laborers form unfair labor practices.”

ICE Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge in Miami Anthony V. Mangione said, “This case should serve as notice to those individuals and businesses that traffic and exploit undocumented immigrants. We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to root out this criminal activity. The message is clear: all employers must play by the rules.”

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Inspector General Chris Mazzella said, “My office will continue to ensure that public monies for School District projects are not misused for private gain through illegal activities.”

The indictment charged that between October 2008, and March 13, 2009, the three defendants used their corporation, Daniel Builders, to hire and underpay illegal aliens to increase their profit margin. Thereafter, the defendants created an elaborate scheme to conceal the fact that the work force at Daniel Builders was comprised primarily of undocumented aliens. This scheme included using nominee corporations that acted as labor providers and payroll administrators, in order to insulate Daniel Builders from the responsibility and tax consequences of hiring illegal workers. This practice allowed Daniel Builders to enhance its profit margin primarily by paying substandard wages, not paying overtime wages, and not withholding social security or employment taxes. Among the nominee companies were Miami Metro Services, Inc., and Miami Dade Builders, Inc.

In March 2009, ICE special agents administratively arrested the 20 individuals who had been observed working at the Southside Elementary construction site. Among those arrested were 14 Mexican nationals, one Salvadoran national, and five Guatemalan nationals. To date, all but one have been removed from the United States. One worker was arrested on criminal charges for illegally re-entering the United States after deportation as an aggravated felon and has been sentenced to 46 months in prison.

The case was conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Miami and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine Tashman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Daniel.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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