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Document and Benefit Fraud
05/08/2008

Car wash franchise and its managers charged with harboring illegal

PHILADELPHIA - United States Attorney Pat Meehan and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Philadelphia Specian Agent in Charge John P. Kellegan today announced the filing of an Indictment against Car Care, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mace Security International, and five members of its management staff charging conspiracy to defraud the government, harbor illegal aliens and commit identity theft.

Named in the indictment along with Car Care are Nicholas Sama, who was the Northeast Regional Manager; Timothy Gibson, who was manager of the "Super Bright Car Wash" in Norristown; Lee Gordon, who was the manager of Car Care in Flourtown; William Spencer, who was the manager of Car Care in Cherry Hill, NJ; and Herbert Wolf, who was the manager of Car Care in Bryn Mawr, PA.

According to the indictment, from or about the year 2000, through March 13, 2006, Car Care and defendants Sama, Gibson, Gordon, Spencer, and Wolf, operated a scheme which allowed the car washes to hire illegal workers (up to 90% of its workforce on a given day) by giving them false names and a way to cash their checks at local banks without identification. The banks were given a list, by some managers, of the employees authorized to cash pay checks without showing identification other than the t-shirts or sweatshirts they wore bearing the Car Care logo.

The defendants also intentionally refrained from filing termination papers when illegal workers quit so that the names of former employees could be given to new illegal workers in order to keep the scheme going. When a manager ran out of names, he obtained the name of a former employee from another Car Care car wash in Mace's Northeast Region. The indictment also charges that through January 2006, Car Care, through Mace, using the names and social security numbers of former employees, regularly submitted earnings reports for those illegal workers to the Internal Revenue Service and to Pennsylvania and New Jersey state agencies.

"This investigation identified a corporation and its managers who engaged in a conspiracy to steal the identities of former employees and use those identities to employ and harbor illegal aliens; all for financial gain," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Philadelphia. "The case is also an excellent example of how federal agencies worked together to shut down those who chose to break the law by exploiting individuals who were here illegally, and, ensure that justice was served on behalf of those whose identities were compromised."

"We're not talking here about a few illegal workers who slipped through the cracks," said Meehan. To the contrary, dozens of illegal workers made up the majority of Car Care's work force at these locations. This is harboring illegal aliens in its simplest form."

The indictment further alleges that in or about November 2004, during a management conference, defendant Sama directed defendants Gordon, Spencer and Wolf, to have the illegal workers obtain false identification documents bearing the photograph of the illegal worker but the name of the former employee that the Car Care manager had assigned to that illegal worker.

The defendants are:

  • Nicholas Sama Tabernacle, NJ 50
  • Timothy Gibson Levittown, PA 36
  • Lee Gordon Philadelphia 36
  • William Spencer Williamstown, NJ 44
  • Herbert Wolf Philadelphia 51
  • Car Care, Inc. Horsham, PA N/A

If convicted of all charges, each of the individual defendants faces a maximum possible sentence of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release; Car Care faces a maximum possible fine of $500,000. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Labor Office of Labor Racketeering & Fraud Investigations, and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Judy Smith is prosecuting it.