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Local landscaping company and owner plead guilty to charges involving the employment of illegal aliens

June 18, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Robert Brake, along with his company Brake Landscaping & Lawncare, Inc., pled guilty to 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 court documents, 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, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of employing illegal aliens; BRAKE LANDSCAPING & LAWNCARE, INC., St. Louis, MO, pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, before United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry. Sentencing has been set for September 13, 2012.

The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. The misdemeanor count is punishable by a maximum of six months in prison. 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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