COVINGTON, Ky. - The chief financial officer of a Cincinnati-area drywall company was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation, six months of home detention, and 100 hours of community service for harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain. This sentence resulted from a criminal worksite enforcement investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jean Robison, 48, of Boone County, admitted that she, Spectrum Interiors, and its president, knowingly conspired to use labor-contracting companies owned by Luis Garcia and others that provided illegal aliens to perform drywall and exterior applications at many Spectrum job sites. Spectrum and its president, 49-year-old Jeffery Wolnitzek, of Ft. Wright, Ky., pleaded guilty last week. Wolnitzek was sentenced to eight months in prison, while Spectrum received two years probation.
Garcia pleaded guilty in November 2005 in Ohio federal court to tax evasion, and he agreed to cooperate with the ICE investigation of Spectrum Interiors before being deported to Mexico. Robison and Wolnitzek met with Garcia in a recorded meeting in May 2006, where Garcia advised them that half of the workers he provided to Spectrum were undocumented aliens. Despite that information, Robison and Wolnitzek agreed to continue to use Garcia's laborers on job site projects. Wolnitzek also tried to convince Garcia to allow one of his relatives to assume his operations after his deportation so that Spectrum could still use the illegal aliens on its projects.
ICE conducted a work site enforcement action at various Spectrum job sites in Kenton and Boone counties in November 2006; ICE agents arrested 31 illegal alien workers on criminal charges of being in the U.S illegally.
Spectrum Interiors is one of the largest drywall businesses in the greater Cincinnati area with offices in Erlanger and Lexington in Kentucky.
"ICE aggressively targets egregious employers who knowingly and recklessly employ an illegal alien workforce," said Paul Chambers, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Ft. Mitchell. "We will continue to use all our investigative tools to pursue employers who take advantage of illegal labor to make an unlawful profit."
Since it was established 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 and public safety, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards.
So far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through July 11, 2008), ICE has made 937 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 99 involve owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 3,500 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal violations. Last year's figures represents a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. Furthermore, in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite-related enforcement actions.