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Framing Company Charged with Hiring Illegal Aliens To Cut Costs

A federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kansas has charged a construction company, its owners, and four of its crew leaders with harboring illegal aliens and money laundering, charges which could bring the defendants up to 20 years in federal prison each and fines up to $250,000 per convicted count.  Advantage Framing Systems, Inc. of Spring Hill, Kansas, company owners James and Kimberly Humbert and Charles Stevens II, and four framing crew leaders for the company – Jose Ramon Caro-Corral, Angel Arguello-Plata, Dennis Ericson Portillo and Jorge Uriel Delgado-Ovalle are all charged with committing these crimes as part of a scheme to hire illegal workers in order to gain a competitive advantage over other contractors and boost their own profits.

A press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas explained how the company allegedly conducted business:

“The indictment alleges James Humbert, Kimberly Humbert, Charles Stevens and the company itself were responsible for hiring undocumented workers for the purpose of lowering the company’s operating costs.  The wages the company paid did not include the employer’s share of Social Security payments, workers compensation, or unemployment insurance benefits paid to lawfully employed workers in the construction industry.  They placed themselves at a competitive advantage to other builders who did not employ undocumented workers.

“The investigation began in March 2012 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service received information that the owners of Advantage Framing and its components employed undocumented workers.  To pay the undocumented workers, the company relied on a method in which certain undocumented aliens who served as framing crew leaders obtained proof of insurance coverage.  The crew leaders received checks from the company and they were responsible for paying the undocumented workers in their crews.  Kim Humbert served as the point of contact from the framing crews for obtaining required liability insurance.”

Company owners allegedly even held so-called “safety meetings” in which employees were coached on topics such as what to do if immigration officials visited the business, or what to say to Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators if asked who they worked for.

This is another way that unscrupulous contractors have found to cheat the government, their competitors who “play by the rules”, and all taxpayers.  In addition, this conduct makes jobs unavailable to those with a legal right to work in the United States.  In the end, this is another example of an illegal operation which was brought to the attention of authorities by a tip from someone who was aware of what was going on.

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