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2/22: Execs indicted for employing undocumented immigrants
Released 24 February 2007  By CNN

Execs indicted for employing illegal immigrants

February 22, 2007

Story Highlights
- Indictment: Three executives made $18.6 million in unpaid taxes
- Rosenbaum Cunningham International accused of hiring illegal immigrants
- They were arrested in a sweep by federal immigration agents
- Indictment alleges that $3,400 was paid for fake green cards

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal authorities have accused three cleaning company executives of pocketing more than $18.6 million in unpaid taxes collected from employing hundreds of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Haiti, according to an indictment CNN obtained Thursday.

The money was placed by the three Rosenbaum Cunningham International executives into "shell companies," and then was used to purchase such "extravagant" items as beach homes and racehorses, the document stated.

RCI Inc.'s president, vice president and controller were arrested along with 200 of the Florida-based company's employees in a recent sweep by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE, Julie Myers, announced at a news conference.

A message on the company's voicemail said that "RCI has ceased operations as of February 22, 2007."

The employees were arrested in 17 states and the District of Columbia late Wednesday into Thursday as they were starting or leaving their shifts, Myers said.

They face various immigration violations and could be deported, she said.

The sweep stems from a 20-month investigation by ICE agents sparked by the arrest of an illegal alien in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Myers said.

The executives will be charged with 23 counts, including conspiracy to defraud and harboring illegal immigrants.

The vice president and controller have already been indicted in a federal court in western Michigan, she said.

According to the indictment, RCI hired illegal immigrants, paid them in cash and never required them to provide identification or fill out job applications or tax forms.

The government estimates that it was deprived of more than $18.6 million in employment taxes as a result. Those unpaid taxes, according to the indictment, were funneled into bank accounts under shell companies created by the three executives.

"They used these funds to buy luxury boats and vehicles; to purchase lavish homes in Florida and California; to acquire racehorses and pay for their maintenance; to pay college tuition for their respective children; to fund excessive insurance policies," the indictment stated.

In November 2003, according to the indictment, one of the three executives approved a reimbursement request from one of the company's supervisors who paid more than $3,400 for fake green cards plus a $1,000 bonus for completing the task.

RCI Inc. provided janitorial services to numerous restaurant chains, including Hard Rock Cafes, Dave & Busters, House of Blues, Planet Hollywood, and Fox Sports Grill, the indictment states.

Myers said there is no evidence that any of the companies were complicit.

A spokeswoman for Fox Sports Grill told CNN that its Plano, Texas, facility has terminated its contract with RCI after learning of the charges.

"We would never knowingly contract with a company that does not comply with immigration laws," spokeswoman Jennifer Parker said. "Their contract warrants that their employees have legal status."

John Gogarty, a spokesman for Hard Rock Cafe, said only two of 124 restaurants used RCI.

"As soon as we became aware of the situation we immediately dissolved our relationship with RCI at those two locations and will no longer retain its services," he said.

This is the latest of several recent major operations by federal officials dealing with illegal immigration in the United States.

In December, ICE agents raided six meat-packing facilities, targeting suspected illegal workers believed to have been involved in a scheme that involved using false identification.

In June, a series of coordinated raids launched by immigration agents resulted in the arrests of more than 2,100 aliens who had criminal records, were gang members or had ignored orders to leave the country, according to the government.

In April, federal immigration authorities rounded up more than 1,000 illegal aliens at dozens of sites and charged nine individuals of IFCO Systems, which employed them in several states.

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