St. Louis County Area Landscape Company And Its Owner Indicted On Immigration Charges
St. Louis, MO – MICHAEL O'HARA, O'HARA LANDSCAPE/LAWN CARE and PRO CARE ENVIRONMENTAL were indicted on visa fraud charges by setting up a shell company to double up on the number of H-2B visa workers.
The H-2B non-immigrant visa program permits employers to hire aliens to come to the United States and perform temporary, non-agricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. There is a set limit on the number of aliens who may receive H-2B visa status during each government fiscal year. The H-2B visa classification requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with appropriate agencies before admitting H-2B non-immigrants.
O’Hara Landscape/Lawn Care, Inc. performs residential and commercial landscaping and lawn care. The main company office is located in the 1000 block of North Lindbergh, St. Louis, Missouri. According to the indictment, Michael O’Hara created Pro Care as a shell company as a means to facilitate and enhance O’Hara Landscape’s access to H-2B visa workers. Pro Care was supposedly an independent landscape and lawn care company, with its own employees, office space (leased from Michael O’Hara), equipment, financing and client list, when in fact Pro Care had none of the above, but simply represented O’Hara Landscape assets as its own. O’Hara falsified statements on behalf of Pro Care in the supporting documentation for temporary labor certifications asserting that Pro Care had a bona fide need for H-2B visa workers, and that the client list of O’Hara Landscape was actually the client list of Pro Care. The H-2B visa workers approved for employment at Pro Care actually worked for O’Hara Landscape, thus allowing Michael O’Hara and O’Hara Landscape access to H-2B visa workers to which they were not otherwise entitled. Finally, the indictment alleges that Michael O’Hara and O’Hara Landscape took steps to conceal from authorities the unlawful nature of Pro Care.
Michael O’Hara, residing in St. Louis County, O’Hara Landscape/Lawn Care, Inc. and Pro Care Environmental, LLC , were each indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
If convicted, this charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney John Ware is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.