ALBANY, NY - Andrew T. Baxter, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York and Lev Kubiak, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office of investigations in Buffalo, announced today the guilty pleas of Steven Means, 31, of Cincinnati, OH, and Bryan Bailey, 29, of Nashville, TN, former New Market Development Managers for the Pallet Management Division of IFCO Systems North America ("IFCO").
Both Means and Bailey pled guilty before the Hon. Lawrence E. Kahn, in United States District Court in Albany, NY, to the misdemeanor offense of Conspiracy to Unlawfully Employ Illegal Aliens. Means pled guilty today; Bailey pled guilty October 14, 2008. At sentencing in February 2009, the defendants face a potential sentence of up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $3,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the crime occurred.
The guilty pleas stems from the government's investigation of illegal immigration and employment-related practices at IFCO's pallet management services plants, which procure, recondition and distribute wood pallets. On April 19, 2006, agents arrested seven current and former IFCO managers, and executed search warrants at 9 IFCO facilities, including IFCO's U.S. headquarters in Houston. At the same time, ICE agents conducted a worksite enforcement action at over 40 IFCO pallet plants nationwide. ICE detained nearly 1,200 illegal aliens who were working at the plants. Means and Bailey were not arrested at that time.
"Bryan Baily and Steven Means, represent respectively, the eighth and ninth IFCO managers who have admitted their guilt related to the employment of illegal aliens at IFCO," said Lev J. Kubiak, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Buffalo. "These guilty pleas, and the ongoing investigation and prosecution of the unlawful immigration practices that took place at IFCO, demonstrate ICE's commitment to aggressively pursue those individuals who take advantage of illegal alien labor to gain an unfair business advantage."
On February 27, 2007, five current and former IFCO managers pled guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from the government's investigation.
- Robert Belvin, of Stuart, FL (former General Manager, Albany IFCO plant): Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Aliens and Conspiracy to Possess Identification Documents with the Intent to Use Unlawfully (felonies);
- James Rice, of Houston, TX (former corporate New Market Development Manager): Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Aliens (felony);
- Michael Ames, of Shrewsbury, MA (General Manager, Westborough, MA IFCO plant): Unlawful Employment of Illegal Aliens (misdemeanor);
- Dario Salzano, of Amsterdam, NY (Assistant General Manager, Albany IFCO plant): Unlawful Employment of Illegal Aliens (misdemeanor); 1 The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
- Scott Dodge, of Elmira, NY (former Assistant General Manager, Albany IFCO plant): Conspiracy to Unlawfully Employ Illegal Aliens (misdemeanor).
On March 28, 2007 Craig Losurado, of Arlington, TN, pled guilty, to the misdemeanor crime of unlawfully employing illegal aliens while employed as an assistant general manager at IFCO's Albany plant.
On July 16, 2007, another IFCO manager, Abelino Chicas, of Houston, TX, pled guilty to the felony offense of Aiding and Abetting the Transportation and Harboring of Illegal Aliens.
On February 28, 2008, a grand jury in the Northern District of New York returned a six-count felony indictment against five additional IFCO managers, including Bryan Bailey. The six-count felony indictment charges the defendants with engaging in a Conspiracy to Harbor Illegal Aliens, to Encourage and Induce Illegal Aliens, and to Transport Illegal Aliens; Aiding and Abetting the Harboring of Illegal Aliens; Encouraging and Inducing Illegal Aliens to Reside in the United States; and Transportation of Illegal Aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage and financial gain.
In connection with their guilty pleas, Means and Bailey admitted that they engaged in conspiracy to hire and continue to employ at IFCO, aliens who were not authorized to be employed in the United States. Mean's conduct took place at the IFCO plants in Columbus and Rittman, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Portland, Oregon; Toelle, Utah (Salt Lake City); and Westborough, Massachusetts (Boston). Bailey admitted to conduct which took place at the IFCO plants in Salt Lake City and Jackson, Mississippi.
The criminal investigation is being conducted by ICE; the New York State Police; the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.