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ICE arrests 2 alleged Agriprocessors human resources employees

POSTVILLE, Iowa - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested two alleged human resources employees Tuesday at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa. U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth, Northern District of Iowa, announced the arrests.

Laura Althouse, 38, of Postville, Iowa, and Karina Freund, 29, of Fayette, Iowa, were arrested this morning by ICE agents at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville. Althouse has been charged with aiding and abetting document fraud, aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, and conspiring to harbor illegal aliens. Freund has been charged with aiding and abetting the harboring of illegal aliens. The charges are contained in complaints unsealed Sept. 9 in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Complaint alleges that, on the afternoon and evening of May 11, 2008, an Agriprocessors supervisor was in the human resources department assisting employees complete new applications using new names, and newly acquired false identification documents. The Complaint alleges Althouse assisted them with the process, knowing that some of the "applicants" were current employees who already worked in the supervisor's department.

According to the complaint, several former illegal alien employees at Agriprocessors have implicated Freund saying she helped them obtain false identification documents.

Althouse and Freund appeared this afternoon in federal court in Cedar Rapids. Althouse was released on bond. Freund was ordered temporarily detained until arrangements could be made for her release on electronic monitoring. A preliminary examination has been scheduled for Althouse and Freund on Sept. 24 at 2:00 p.m.

If convicted of all charges, Althouse faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of 22 years in prison, a $750,000 fine, special assessments of $300, and seven years of supervised release following any prison term. Freund faces a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a special assessment of $100, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Deegan, C.J. Williams, and Matt Cole, prosecuted the cases; the cases were investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.