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09/12/2012

Iowa business owner sentenced for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens

DUBUQUE, Iowa – An eastern Iowa construction company owner was sentenced in federal court Wednesday on charges of harboring illegal aliens. This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Thomas C. Kehoe, 54, of Dubuque, Iowa, pleaded guilty April 27 to one count of conspiracy to transport, harbor, encourage and induce aliens to reside in the United States.

"Homeland Security Investigations is committed to holding businesses accountable when they knowingly hire an illegal workforce," said Michael Feinberg, special agent in charge of HSI St. Paul, which covers Iowa. "Employers who willfully violate our nation's hiring laws gain an unfair economic advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation's legal workers and level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules."

Kehoe was sentenced to serve five months in prison followed by five months of home confinement. He was also fined $3,000, ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release, and pay a $100 assessment fee.

During the last eight years, Kehoe has owned and operated On Time Construction in Dubuque. In June 2011, two illegal aliens who worked for the company were arrested in Dubuque. Subsequent investigation disclosed that during the previous two years, Kehoe employed 18 or 19 illegal alien workers to perform primarily residential roofing work for his construction business.

The illegal alien workers were recruited to work for Kehoe by Oswaldo Perez, an illegal alien from El Salvador. Kehoe claimed he subcontracted with Perez to perform construction work and provide workers for his company. However, evidence developed in the course of the investigation showed that Kehoe knew, and acted with reckless disregard of the fact, that Perez and the other alien workers were unlawfully in the county. Perez was previously convicted of harboring aliens, sentenced to 10 months in prison, and deported.