News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WEDNESDAY - April 6, 2011

PRINCIPALS PLEA GUILTY TO ILLEGAL ALIEN HARBORING CONSPIRACY

NEW BERN - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday JOSE LOPEZ and JUAN ANTONIO LOPEZ (“LOPEZ BROTHERS”), owners of J&A Framers Carpentry, Inc. (“J&A Framing”), in Durham, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel to conspiring to conceal, harbor, and shield illegal aliens in connection with their business operations, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

According to the Indictment, returned on December 14, 2010, from approximately 2004, through the date of the Indictment, J&A Framing secured framing contracts from a number of large home builders and had projects requiring approximately a dozen full-time eight-person framing crews at any given time. The work force utilized by the LOPEZ BROTHERS consisted largely of illegal aliens who came to the United States from Mexico. In order to ensure a ready source of illegal aliens to satisfy J&A Framing’s labor needs, the LOPEZ BROTHERS made it known to various contacts in their hometown in Mexico that they had job openings for illegal aliens at J&A Framing. In some cases, the LOPEZ BROTHERS also loaned funds to their illegal workers for use in repaying smuggling organizations (known as “coyote” organizations) for the amount owed by such workers or in payment of the fee necessary to smuggle relatives into the United States. The LOPEZ BROTHERS and their families were also able to profit by renting rooms to illegal workers in the trailers located on, and nearby, the Durham Business Property.

At sentencing, to be set before Chief United States District Court Judge Louise Flanagan in New Bern, the LOPEZ BROTHERS each face up to 5 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by up to 3 years supervised release. As part of the plea agreement, the LOPEZ BROTHERS agreed to jointly forfeit the sum of $250,000 to the United States, payable within 70 days of the entry of their pleas. In addition, the LOPEZ BROTHERS each face a fine of up to $250,000 each.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Dennis M. Duffy and Sebastian Kielmanovich represent the government in this case.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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