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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Friday, November 21, 2014

Danny Hendon, Former Owner Of Danny’s Car Wash, Sentenced To 12 Months Prison,12 Months Home Confinement For Overseeing Multi-year, Company-wide Scheme To Employ Unauthorized Aliens

PHOENIX– On Nov. 20 and 21, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Neil V. Wake presided over the sentencing of 14 defendants, including Daniel Lewis “Danny” Hendon, 64, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., who once served as managers or supervisors of Danny’s Family Car Wash (“DFC”), a prominent chain of local car washes.  All of the defendants previously pleaded guilty to the felony offense of conspiracy to commit identity theft.  Hendon was sentenced to 12 months in prison, to be followed by 12 months of home confinement, and also agreed to divest himself of any future ownership, managerial, or profit-sharing interest in the DFC organization.  The remaining defendants received sentences ranging from probation to three months in prison. In addition, Judge Wake ordered the corporate entities that compose the DFC organization, which previously pleaded guilty to the crime of pattern/practice of employing unauthorized aliens, to forfeit over $156,000.

U.S. Attorney John Leonardo stated, “Today’s sentences should send a strong message to the Arizona business community - companies that knowingly employ unauthorized aliens will be punished severely.  The hiring scheme at Danny’s Car Wash not only harmed the individuals whose identities were stolen, but also was unfair to competing businesses that sought to play by the rules with respect to their labor costs and practices.”

“These sentences again give notice to employers who exploit illegal alien labor about the consequences of violating our nation’s laws,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Arizona. “Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation’s legal workers and level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules. The bottom line is, businesses that use illegal alien workers to gain an economic advantage over their competition must understand they will potentially pay a price for those unlawful practices.”

In April 2011, DFC was forced to terminate over 900 employees after an audit by HSI special agents that revealed those employeeshad presented fraudulent, insufficient, or ineligible documents at the time of their initial hire.  Although DFC initially attempted to hire lawful employees as replacements, those replacements quickly proved ineffective and/or too expensive.  In response, Hendon instructed the company’s managers to “bring back” the old employees.  Although some managers expressed discomfort with this instruction, they were threatened with the loss of their jobs if they refused to comply.  As a result, beginning in mid-2011, DFC embarked upon a multi-year, company-wide scheme to rehire the unauthorized aliens who had previously been terminated.  These aliens routinely used someone else’s identification in order to pass their E-Verify background check, and DFC’s management was aware of - and often affirmatively facilitated - these identity-theft efforts.  The scheme continued until August 2013, when criminal investigators from the Department of Homeland Security executed search warrants at DFC’s corporate headquarters and at various DFC car wash locations.  Over 230 unauthorized aliens were working for DFC on the date of the search.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations.  The prosecution was handled by Dominic Lanza and Lisa Jennis, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBERS:         CR-13-1143, 14-108, 14-301, 14-990       
RELEASE NUMBER:   2014-068_ Danny’s Family Car Wash

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/
Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.

Updated January 7, 2015