Asplundh, the tree-trimming company, has been hit by a $96 million penalty for hiring (and rehiring) illegal alien workers. According to the federal prosecutors it is the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.
The company pled guilty to criminal charges in a federal court in Pennsylvania, where its headquarters is located, apparently moving swiftly to minimize the damage to the corporation's image. As a result of the guilty plea, there will not be a public trial.
The story was reported by Law360 in an article partly behind a pay wall. The court documents can be seen in PACER file 2:17-cr-00492-JP.
The feds also secured a guilty plea from Larry Gauger, a mid-level Asplundh executive, for the same set of issues; he faces sentencing in federal court on October 16. One hopes he gets some jail time.
This was not a garden-variety illegal alien hiring violation, according to court documents.
As a result of an E-Verify check, some 100 Asplundh workers were identified as not being in the country legally and were laid off by the firm. Then some of them were knowingly rehired under new, phony names bearing new, phony documents.
The information filed against the company cited four examples of this double-dealing, with, for instance, a worker who had been Danny Palao prior to his being laid off, being rehired as Jose Feliciano.
None of the documents I read dealt with any Asplundh hirings other than those supervised by Gauger.
I hope that this case gets lots of press coverage; it deserves it. The firm is a big one and well known because of people seeing its trucks at the side of highways and streets; and the penalty is large enough for corporate America to pay attention.