News and Press Releases

Texas Firm And Field Operations Supervisor Sentenced For Harboring And Transporting Illegal Aliens Used In North Central Pennsylvania Oil And Gas Survey Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2014

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today announced the sentencing on January 9, 2014 of GPX/GPX, USA, a seismic surveying company based in Sealy, Texas, and its field operations supervisor, Douglas C. Wiggill. On March 11, 2013, GPX entered a guilty plea to Count One of the indictment charging conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens, and Wiggill entered a guilty plea to a one-count information, charging aiding and abetting the improper entry of illegal aliens.  GPX is engaged in the business of providing seismic and surface mapping surveys for the oil and gas industry.  Wiggill, a 44-year old Canadian national, worked for GPX for 22 years.

     On January 9, 2014, United States District Judge Yvette Kane sentenced GPX to a period of 36 months’ probation and ordered the criminal forfeiture of $250,000, a $25,000 firm and a special assessment of $400 payable over the term of probation.  Judge Kane also ordered GPX to implement a compliance program for confirming the employment eligibility and identity of all its current and prospective employees using the E-Verify System and the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process provided by the Department of Homeland Security.  Judge Kane imposed a $5,000 fine and a special assessment on Wiggill.   

     According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the indictment returned on May 10, 2012 alleged that in May 2011 GPX and Wiggill hired 19 illegal aliens to work on a seismic surveying project in Lycoming County.     The indictment alleged that GPX and Wiggill failed to verify the immigration status of the aliens and did not prepare the required Form I-9 and supporting documentation concerning the aliens’ authorization to be in the United States.

     According to the indictment, GPX executed a contractor compliance agreement certifying that all personnel were authorized to work legally in the United States when, in fact, they were not. On June 23 and 24, 2011, officers of the Williamsport Bureau of Police and agents of Homeland Security Investigations arrested the 19 aliens employed by GPX at, or in the vicinity of, apartments rented for them in Williamsport by Wiggill and GPX. The arrests were a result of an investigation of one of the aliens by Williamsport Police.

     "Homeland Security Investigations is committed to holding businesses and their managers accountable when they knowingly hire an illegal workforce," said John Kelleghan, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. "HSI and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that employers follow our nation's hiring laws, which ultimately protects job opportunities for the nation's legal workers, and levels the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules."

     The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Williamsport Bureau of Police.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney George J. Rocktashel.

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