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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JANUARY 16, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


JURY CONVICTS GEORGE’S PROCESSING EMPLOYEE

FOR HARBORING ILLEGAL ALIEN


ANOTHER FORMER EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY

TO IDENTITY THEFT


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Monett, Mo., woman who was involved in hiring employees at George’s Processing, Inc., in Butterfield, Mo., has been convicted by a federal jury for harboring an illegal alien and inducing an illegal alien to enter or reside in the United States. Another former George’s Processing employee recently pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft in a separate but related case.


             Dora Ruiz, 33, of Monett, was found guilty on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, of two counts contained in an Oct. 16, 2007, federal indictment. In a separate but related case, Sinthia Valadez-Ramirez, 23, address unknown, pleaded guilty on Jan. 8, 2008, to aiding and abetting others to commit aggravated identity theft. Both Ruiz and Valadez-Ramirez formerly worked in the human resources department at George’s Processing and were involved in the hiring process at the plant.


              “These convictions mark an important development in our continued commitment to pursuing employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens,” Wood said.


             Ruiz was found guilty of aiding and abetting others to harbor an illegal alien at George’s Processing, and of aiding and abetting others to induce an illegal alien to enter or reside in the United States, between Dec. 14, 2005, and May 22, 2007.


            Evidence presented during the trial demonstrated that Ruiz assisted George’s employees by completing their Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 forms and translating from English to Spanish. Ruiz knew that many employees were illegal aliens who used fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers and identity documents in order to be hired at the plant.


            This verdict marks the first trial conviction in an active and ongoing investigation arising from a work site enforcement conducted at George’s Processing on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, executing a federal search warrant, arrested 136 illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala on administrative immigration charges. Agents from the U.S. Marshals Service assisted with the arrests. As a result of that enforcement action, 28 of those employees were also charged criminally with immigration and identity theft violations.


             By pleading guilty, Valadez-Ramirez admitted that, between July 4, 2006, and May 22, 2007, she aided and abetted others to use another person’s identity – including a Missouri non-driver’s license number and a Social Security card – so that another person could represent herself to be a citizen of the United States.


            Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in U.S. District Court in Springfield deliberated about an hour before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr, ending a trial that began Monday, Jan. 14, 2008.


            Under federal statutes, Ruiz could be subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary K. Milligan. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html