Oct. 13, 2009
JURY CONVICTS THREE INVOLVED IN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AT A&M OF HARBORING ILLEGAL ALIENS
(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) - A federal jury has convicted three men connected with the construction of new student housing at the Texas A&M - Kingsville campus of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The jury returned its guilty verdicts on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, after two hours of deliberation, convicting William Holtzapfel, 53, and Robert “Spyder” Wilson, 50, both of Houston, and Edgar Martinez, 33, of Hidalgo, Texas, of conspiring to and harboring illegal aliens.
During the trial, which began Oct. 7, the jury heard the testimony of various law enforcement officers and two citizens of Argentina illegally present in the United States. The Argentinean witnesses testified about working for Martinez, owner of EDCO Electric, a subcontractor hired by Integrated Electrical Services Inc. (IES), an electrical and communications firm that employs approximately 1,200 people nationwide. Holtzapfel and Wilson were employees of IES, which was involved in the construction of new student housing on the Texas A&M – Kingsville campus.
The Argentinean witnesses testified they lived in Holtzapfel’s apartment in Kingsville from March through June of this year and that at any given time there were up to nine other illegal aliens living with them in the three bedroom apartment. They were all employed at the campus work site primarily performing electrical work.
One of the two Argentineans testified he was responsible for recording the amount of work performed by the aliens at the Kingsville work site and to present that information to Holtzapfel. Holtzapfel, in turn, would approve or amend the report and send it to IES. Upon receipt of the report, IES issued a check to Martinez. Martinez kept a portion of the payment and deposited the remainder into the witness’ bank account who would then divide the proceeds and pay the undocumented aliens living in the apartment for their work.
The witness also testified about a conversation he had with Wilson. In that conversation Wilson offered the subcontracting job at the university to the witness but the witness had to decline the offer telling Wilson he could not get the required insurance to be a subcontractor because he did not have a Social Security number. Wilson later contacted Martinez for the job.
Border Patrol (BP) agents in Kingsville first became aware of the aliens after one of them was arrested while standing at a gas station with a suitcase, but with no documents allowing him to be in the United States legally. He, in turn, told BP agents about the apartment complex where he was staying and agents surveilled the area. On July 1, agents witnessed a large amount of men coming out of one apartment and getting into vehicles. Agents performed traffic stops on two of the trucks leaving the apartment, which led to the arrest of five of the workers.
Holtzapfel and Martinez were indicted on July 22; Wilson on Aug. 12. All were charged with one count of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens and two counts of harboring an illegal alien and were all released on bond. Yesterday, the jury convicted all three men of the conspiracy count and one of the count of harboring illegal aliens. The jury also found Holtzapfel and Wilson guilty of the second count of harboring illegal aliens. All three men face up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine at sentencing scheduled for Jan. 7, 2010, before Chief United States District Court Judge Hayden Head, who presided over the trial.
The court has permitted Holtzapfel and Wilson to remain on bond pending their sentencing hearing. Martinez failed to appear in court yesterday and his whereabouts are unknown. A warrant has issued and remains outstanding for his failure to appear in court.
This case is the result of an investigation initiated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection – BP, Kingsville Station. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hess is prosecuting the case.
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