News and Press Releases

six people from rapid city sentenced for immigration related crimes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2014
Contact: Ace Crawford
605-341-1915

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that six individuals, five of whom are family members, have been sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy to harbor aliens and for harboring aliens between January 2008 and May 2013.  The fraud is in connection with contracts entered into with the U.S. Forest Service.
                          
The convictions are a result of a criminal investigative operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Rapid City Police Department, the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Custer County’s Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies. 

The following individuals were sentenced on April 24 and April 25, 2014:

*Angel Munoz-Escalante, age 60, owner and operator of Munoz Logging and Construction Company, was sentenced for False Statement. He received 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment, 1 year of supervised release, 50 hours of community service, $539,507.92 in restitution, a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of a 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck, a 2006 Dodge pickup truck, a Timbco Valmet T445 EXL, a Timbco T425B, and $108,590.08 in currency. The total value of the seized and forfeited items is $260,492.08. Munoz-Escalante intentionally submitted approximately 50 contract certifications for payment to the U.S. Forest Service.  The certifications were in violation of law, as they contained materially false statements.  The work performed on the contracts was not done in accordance with the contract terms because Munoz-Escalante employed undocumented aliens and failed to pay workers at prevailing wage and benefit rates. Munoz-Escalante is scheduled to begin his prison term on May 26, 2014.

*Barbara Munoz, age 55, owner and operator of Munoz Logging and Construction Company, was sentenced for Misprison of a Felony. She received 1 year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Munoz was aware that her husband, Angel Munoz-Escalante, was committing federal felony crimes by circumventing U.S. Forest Service contract requirements and did not report those crimes.

*Aurelio Munoz-Escalante, age 51, owner and operator of Black Hills Thinning Company, was sentenced for False Statement. He received 3 months of imprisonment, 1 year of supervised release, $135,276.88 in restitution, a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of a 518C Skidder, a 2005 CAT 525B Skidder, and $116,724.12 in currency. The total value of the seized and forfeited items is $165,590.12. Aurelio Munoz-Escalante intentionally submitted approximately 32 contract certifications for payment to the U.S. Forest Service.  The certifications were in violation of law, as they contained materially false statements.  The work performed on the contracts was not done in accordance with the contract terms because Aurelio Munoz-Escalante employed undocumented aliens and failed to pay workers at prevailing wage and benefit rates. Aurelio Munoz-Escalante is scheduled to begin his prison term at a later date.

*Rogelio Escalante, age 57, owner and operator of Escalante Logging Company and Escalante Logging and Thinning Company, was sentenced for False Statement. He received 6 months of home confinement, 2 years of probation, $249,155.23 in restitution, a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of a 2005 ASV Positract RC 100, a Tigercat 610C Skidder, a 1998 Timberjack 460 Skidder, and $38,875.29 in currency.  The total value of the seized and forfeited items is $223,875.29. Escalante intentionally submitted approximately 25 contract certifications for payment to the U.S. Forest Service.  The certifications were in violation of law, as they contained materially false statements.  The work performed on the contracts was not done in accordance with the contract terms because Escalante employed undocumented aliens and failed to pay workers at prevailing wage and benefit rates.

*Miguel Soto, age 31, foreman for Black Hills Thinning Company, was sentenced for Continuing Unlawful Employment of Aliens. He received a $2,500 fine, a $10 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of $3,087 in currency. Soto, while working for Black Hills Thinning Company as a supervisor, knowingly paid illegal alien employees. In addition, while running his own logging crew, he knowingly employed illegal workers.

*Pascual Munoz, age 55, owner and operator of Pine Forest Logging and Thinning, was sentenced for Continuing Unlawful Employment of Aliens. He received a $2,500 fine, a $10 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and forfeiture of his logging equipment.  The total value of the seized and forfeited items is $22,500. Munoz hired illegal workers, did not pay insurance or overtime, and did not provide safety equipment, all in violation of his U.S. Forest Service contracts.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah B. Collins and Eric Kelderman prosecuted the cases.

Four additional defendants associated with this case will be sentenced at a later date. 

        


 

 

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