News and Press Releases

Spring Hill, Kan., Company Owners
Charged With Harboring Undocumented Aliens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

April 1, 2013

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – The owners and managers of a framing company in Spring Hill, Kan., have been charged with harboring undocumented aliens who worked for the company, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

An indictment unsealed here today alleges that Advantage Framing knowingly employed undocumented aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. The company issued checks to crew leaders, who in turn cashed the checks and paid the undocumented workers in cash.

“The indictment alleges the defendants devised a scheme to lower their operating costs and boost their profits by employing undocumented workers,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “The company did not pay for Social Security, workers compensation or unemployment insurance benefits for those employees.”

Advantage Framing provided local builders and contractors with engineered floor, pre-built wall panels and roof truss systems, along with onsite framing erection labor. The company had two components. Advantage Framing Systems, Inc., was the umbrella for the framing services and trucking. Advantage Component Systems, Inc., carried out the equipment, lumber, inventory and design functions.

The following defendants are charged in the indictment:

James Humbert, 44, owner of Advantage Framing, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering.
Kimberly Humbert, 46, wife of James Humbert and co-owner of Advantage framing, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering.
Charles Stevens II, 50, brother of Kim Humbert and part-owner of Advantage Framing, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering.
Jose Ramon Caro-Corral, 57, a crew leader for the company, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.
Angel Arguello-Plata, 30, a crew leader for the company, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.
Dennis Erickson Portillo, 29, a crew leader for the company, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.
Jorge Uriel Delgado-Ovalle, 32, a crew leader for the company, who is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.
Advantage Framing System, Inc., which is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain, 11 counts of harboring illegal aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering.

The indictment alleges James Humbert, Kimberly Humbert, Charles Stevens and the company itself were responsible for hiring undocumented workers for the purpose of lowering the company’s operating costs. The wages the company paid did not include the employer’s share of Social Security payments, workers compensation, or unemployment insurance benefits paid to lawfully employed workers in the construction industry. They placed themselves at a competitive advantage to other builders who did not employ undocumented workers.

The investigation began in March 2012 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service received information that the owners of Advantage Framing and its components employed undocumented workers. To pay the undocumented workers, the company relied on a method in which certain undocumented aliens who served as framing crew leaders obtained proof of insurance coverage. The crew leaders received checks from the company and they were responsible for paying the undocumented workers in their crews. Kim Humbert served as the point of contact from the framing crews for obtaining required liability insurance.

Sometime in 2005, James Humbert told a potential investor in Advantage that he knew of an individual who makes fraudulent identification documents for Advantage’s undocumented workers.

Advantage employed 25 to 33 crews. A framing crew consisted of five or six workers.

Advantage required crew leaders to attend safety training meetings at the main office. At the meetings, additional topics such as how to react if investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a site inspection were discussed. Workers were instructed to tell OSHA they worked for a sub-contractor and not directly for Advantage.

The indictment alleges that James Humbert and Kim Humbert practiced running a drill in the event that immigration official came to the business. They remarked that the “white guys would have no clue what to do while everyone else ran and hid.”

Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Harboring undocumented aliens: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

 

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