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Worksite Enforcement
11/29/2011

Detroit-area manager charged criminally for hiring illegal aliens

DETROIT — A manager at a specialty pallet and box manufacturing company in northwest Detroit was arrested Tuesday by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on criminal charges of knowingly accepting false documentation in the course of hiring undocumented workers.

Edward Schlacht, 48, a supervisor at Grigg Box Company in Detroit, was taken into custody Tuesday morning without incident by ICE HSI special agents.

"Employers who evade the law not only fuel the demand that is responsible for much of the country's illegal immigration, but their actions also hurt lawful workers who are seeking jobs in this challenging economy," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. "Criminal prosecutions are just one of many tools HSI is using to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect job opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce."

As part of the enforcement action, agents also executed a federal search warrant at the business seeking evidence in this ongoing investigation into the company's hiring practices. Schlacht is charged in a criminal complaint with continuing to employ unauthorized aliens. The arrest is the culmination of an investigation that began in February when an ICE HSI audit of the company's hiring records identified 35 employees who used suspected counterfeit documents to obtain their jobs.

According to the court documents, after ICE HSI notified the company about the suspicious documents, Grigg Box Company sent a written reply advising the employees in question had been terminated. Subsequently, investigators conducting surveillance of the premises, observed several of the "terminated" employees continuing to work at the company. Additionally, through the use confidential informants, ICE HSI special agents recorded Schlacht in the process of hiring two individuals who admitted their documents were counterfeit and had been purchased. This individual was later paid by Schlacht in the form of an official payroll check from the company.

Schlacht is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday afternoon. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility documents and determine whether the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work on the Form I-9.

Nationally in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, ICE:

  • Conducted 2,496 I-9 audits, up from 503 in FY 2008;
  • Initiated 3,291 worksite enforcement cases, up from 1,191 in FY 2008;
  • Criminally arrested 221 employers, up from 135 in FY 2008;
  • Issued 385 Final Orders for $10,463,987 in fines, up from 18 Final Orders for $675,209 in fines in FY 2008; and
  • Debarred 115 individuals and 97 businesses, compared to 0 individuals and 0 businesses in FY 2008.

To learn more about ICE's worksite enforcement strategy, click here.