Paul and Barbara Love of Ridgeland each pleaded guilty to federal charges related to hiring undocumented immigrants, said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Gregory K. Davis. Sentencing will take place in August. Here's the release from Davis' office:
RIDGELAND BUSINESS OWNERS PLEAD GUILTY TO EMPLOYING ILLEGAL ALIENS
Jackson, Miss. - Paul Love, 58, and Barbara Love, 58, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, have each pled guilty in federal court to charges relating to the employment of illegal aliens at Love Irrigation, Inc., announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) in New Orleans.
Paul Love pled guilty on Monday, May 21, to harboring illegal aliens. He will be sentenced on August 2, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. and faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Barbara Love pled guilty on Tuesday, May 29, to hiring and continuing to employ illegal aliens. She will be sentenced on August 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm and faces a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Love Irrigation, Inc. admitted to violating federal criminal immigration laws and agreed to numerous remedial and compliance measures in connection with hiring and employing legal workers. The company agreed to pay $515,109.67 in penalties and fines. In return, the United States agreed to defer prosecution of the company for three years and to ultimately dismiss the charges after the threeyear period if the company has fully satisfied the terms of the agreement.
Love Irrigation is a lawn irrigation, sprinkler installation, and landscaping company located in Ridgeland, Mississippi. From 2003 through 2010, the company employed, continued to employ and even re-hired illegal aliens, despite being told by ICE that certain aliens were illegal. In May 2008, ICE visited Love Irrigation and instructed owners Paul and Barbara Love on how to properly complete Forms I-9, verify Social Security Numbers, and participate in the E-Verify program. Afterwards, ICE reviewed Love Irrigation's Forms I-9 and informed Paul and Barbara Love that seven employees were illegal and must be terminated. Rather than terminate those illegal alien employees, the Loves continued to employ them and took affirmative steps to hide such illegal alien employees from detection. They began to classify the illegal alien employees as "contract labor" and stopped reporting them to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security ("MDES") as required by law. The Loves also stopped paying the illegal alien employees by check and began paying them in cash at offsite locations.
In 2010, Love Irrigation began resubmitting the names of its illegal alien employees to MDES, using the exact same names and Social Security numbers for some, but using different Social Security numbers for others previously identified by ICE in 2008. The Loves also began falsifying Forms I-9 in 2010, listing false employment start dates for various illegal alien employees, while listing Social Security numbers different from those used by the same illegal alien employees on Forms I-9 in the past.
“Enforcement of our immigration laws is essential to the national and economic security of our nation,” said Gregory Davis, U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. “This office will continue to bring to justice those employers who seek to profit through a business model that incorporates illegal workers at the expense of hard-working Americans who are eager to work.” U.S. Attorney Davis commended the efforts of the ICE HSI agents who investigated the case, and Assistant United States Attorney Mike Hurst who prosecuted the case.