House Fitters, Inc.’s Vice President Sentenced for Unlawfully Employing an Illegal Alien
RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announces that House Fitters, Inc.’s Vice President, ROBERT B. JERNIGAN, age 52, of Kinston, North Carolina, was sentenced today to a 12-month probationary sentence by United States District Judge James C. Dever III after a guilty plea to unlawfully employing an illegal alien. JERNIGAN was also ordered to forfeit $9,649.00 in connection with the criminal conduct.
According to court records, JERNIGAN, in his role as House Fitters, Inc.’s Vice President, hired Oscar Obdulio Lopez-Garcia, a previously deported alien from Guatemala, knowing Lopez-Garcia was not authorized to undertake employment in the United States. In order to avoid detection, JERNIGAN and House Fitters, Inc. allowed Lopez-Garcia to reside in company property and reported Lopez-Garcia’s wages to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission under a fictitious name.
On September 7, 2018, Lopez-Garcia pleaded guilty in federal court to illegal reentry into the United States after having been deported on three (3) occasions subsequent to a conviction for sale of a controlled substance. Lopez-Garcia’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for the December 2018 term of court.
The case was investigated under the newly created framework of the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in the Eastern District of North Carolina and is led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations, and assisted by Enforcement Removal Operations, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, among other agencies. The investigation as to the unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens is ongoing.