BANGOR, MAINE - United States Attorney Paula D. Silsby announced that Manuel Antonio Cornejo, age 29, of Bangor, pleaded guilty on January 23, 2008 in U.S. District Court in Bangor, to harboring and employing illegal aliens. Cornejo faces a possible sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine.
Court records reveal that in July 2006 and continuing into January 2008, Cornejo employed at least seven illegal aliens in his cleaning business, and provided a place for some of the workers to live. Cleaning Services Group (CSG) of Danvers, Massachusetts was responsible for floor cleaning of the Hannaford Supermarkets in the Bangor area and the company from Danvers then subcontracted the Bangor area stores to Cornejo's company, MC Cleaning LLC. Evidence obtained during a lengthy investigation revealed that Cornejo was aware that his employees were unlawfully present in the country and did not have proper documents to work in the United States. Also, the investigation revealed that several of the illegal aliens were living at an apartment rented by Cornejo and making rental payments to him.
"Knowingly hiring undocumented workers is a crime," said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigations in Boston. "Those employers who are hiring undocumented workers need to know that worksite enforcement is an agency priority and ICE is aggressively pursuing those who violate our nation's immigration laws."
As part of this worksite enforcement operation, two other individuals were also arrested by ICE and are facing federal criminal charges. Rubidia Mejia Gonzalez was charged with and pleaded guilty to Possession of False Documents. Jose Dos Santos Bispo was arrested and faces federal criminal charges for illegal Re-entry After Deportation.
United States Attorney Silsby praised the investigation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration as well as the police departments of Bangor, Brewer and Ellsworth, Maine.
Since its establishment in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards. As part of this strategy, ICE is targeting unscrupulous employers by seeking to initiate criminal prosecutions and forfeiture of businesses' assets.
In fiscal year 2007, ICE made more than 4,900 criminal and administrative arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations, nearly four times the number of worksite-related arrests just two years ago.