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Local landscaping company and owner indicted on charges involving the employment of illegal aliens

February 10, 2012

St. Louis, MO - The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Robert Brake along with his company, Brake Landscaping & Lawncare, Inc., were indicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining H-2B worker visas to support his landscaping business.

The H-2B non-immigrant visa program permits employers to hire aliens to come to the United States and perform temporary, non-agricultural services on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. There is a set limit on the number of aliens who may receive H-2B visa status during each government fiscal year.

According to the indictment, between March 2007 and February 2010, Robert Brake and his company illegally sub-contracted H-2B workers to an associate on a weekly basis at a profit of more than $2 an hour per alien. The indictment also alleges that in order to facilitate illegal year-round employment of temporary H–2B visa workers, Brake incorporated Brake Snow and Ice Removal artificially crediting a need for temporary or seasonal workers that didn’t actually exist. Brake Snow and Ice Removal was essentially the same company as Brake Landscaping.

ROBERT BRAKE, Byrnes Mill, MO; and BRAKE LANDSCAPING & LAWNCARE, INC., St. Louis, Missouri, were each indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

"Visa fraud undermines the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system," said Gary Hartwig, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Chicago.

James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, observed that, “Submission of fraudulent labor certification applications not only cheat workers here legally, but pose a security risk to this country.”

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-Office of Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General with assistance from Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Assistant United States Attorney John J. Ware is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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