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March 2, 2012

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Two Arrested for Hiring and Transporting Undocumented Aliens

GALVESTON, Texas – An eight-count federal indictment has been partially unsealed following the arrest of two on charges of hiring undocumented aliens in Winnie, Texas, to cleanup an oil spill near Marshall, Mich., United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The indictment charges Phillip Taylor Hallmark, 48, the owner of Hallmark Industrial Services Inc. (HIS) and Thomas Gard, 47, the manager of HIS.

The indictment charges one count of conspiracy to a) transport undocumented aliens in the United States, b) conceal, harbor, undocumented aliens in the United States and c) induce and encourage undocumented aliens’ residence in the United States for commercial advantage and financial gain as well as six counts of transporting undocumented aliens for financial gain and one count of hiring at least 42 undocumented aliens.

Hallmark, of Winnie, and Gard, of Nederland, Texas, turned themselves into federal authorities just moments ago and are expected to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner in Galveston this morning.

According to the indictment, Hallmark and Gard sought to employ the illegal aliens with little or no regard to their legal status. Ultimately, the defendants allegedly hired the undocumented aliens for the cleanup and fraudulently completed work authorization forms on their behalf using false Social Security numbers given to the illegal aliens. To further the employment, the indictment alleges the defendants transported the aliens from Winnie to Kalamazoo, Mich. (the area of the oil spill). Specifically, in counts two through seven, the indictment alleges that on Aug. 30, 2010, the defendants transported undocumented aliens from Michigan to Winnie knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that the aliens had come to the United States illegally. Also, to further the employment of the undocumented aliens, the indictment alleges they paid the undocumented aliens in cash.
Beginning in July 2010, after the oil spill, the defendants and other conspirators allegedly arranged for lodging and meals for the illegal aliens in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Mich., for work in the cleanup operation. It was a part of the conspiracy that they, along with other conspirators, housed the aliens in hotels, provided their meals and transportation to and from the worksite while they worked to clean the oil spill.
Both Hallmark and Gard face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 fine upon conviction for the conspiracy charge and each of the transporting aliens counts in addition to an additional six months imprisonment and up to a $3,000 fine for the hiring of undocumented aliens charge.     

This matter was investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kebharu Smith, Jennie Basile and Al Ratliff.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.