C.p. Buckner Steel Erection, Inc. Enters Into $825,000 Settlement Of Claims Related To Employment Of Illegal Aliens
ALBANY, NEW YORK –C.P. Buckner Steel Erection Inc., (“Buckner”) of Graham, North Carolina has agreed to pay $825,000 in civil forfeiture over two years as part of a settlement in an investigation of its employment of illegal aliens announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Nicholas DiNicola. As part of the settlement agreement, if Buckner fully complies with the terms of the settlement agreement, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York agrees not to pursue corporate criminal charges against Buckner for its employment of illegal alien workers before March 31, 2009.
The government’s investigation documented that Buckner employed workers at projects who were not eligible to work. The investigation began in January 2009 following a tip that Buckner had transported illegal aliens from North Carolina to a Beech-Nut project in Montgomery County, New York. Regarding that project, on January 22, 2009 and February 18, 2009, HSI arrested a total of nine Buckner employees, including two supervisors, because they were unlawfully present in the United States. Six of those employees were released, and Buckner continued to employ them. In addition, after the first arrests, the employees moved from a hotel located within one mile of the project to one thirty miles away. This move was approved by Buckner.
On February 28, 2009, when auditors from the New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation (“BCI”) appeared unannounced at the project to interview employees, all but one employee, who was also not authorized to work, fled. Those employees, as approved by Buckner, went to North Carolina and continued working for Buckner there despite the fact that they were not authorized to work. Until April 2009, Buckner failed to make further inquiry regarding the work authorization status of those employees who had fled and other employees in its workforce who Buckner had sponsored for green cards consciously avoiding the inferences that could be drawn from the combination of the Buckner’s sponsorship of the employees in the green card program, the crew’s action in the Northern District of New York, and HSI’s arrest of Buckner employees in 2008 and 2009. In addition, Buckner had received repeated notices over multiple years from the SSA of hundreds of irregularities in the social security numbers used for employment purposes by its workers.
Under the settlement agreement, which remains in effect until July 10, 2016, Buckner agrees to cooperate fully and actively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the government entities involved in the investigation. Buckner is also required to continue remedial hiring actions implemented after it learned about the investigation on March 31, 2009. Those actions include using DHS’s “E-Verify” screening program for all new hires, verifying the social security numbers of all Buckner employees, and maintaining an employee hotline to receive reports of any suspected violation of law at the company.
The investigation was conducted by HSI. The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Grogan and Gwendolyn Carroll.