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Kansas company pleads guilty to knowingly accepting false documents to hire illegal alien as manager for McDonald's Wichita franchise

WICHITA, Kan. — A Wichita-based McDonald's franchisee pleaded guilty Tuesday to knowingly accepting false documents to hire an illegal alien as a manager for one of its local restaurants.

This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The McCalla Corporation, which operates six restaurants in Wichita, pleaded guilty to one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document as proof that an employee was eligible to work.

As part of a plea agreement, the corporation agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment.

This is the second case this year in which a Kansas company has been charged with knowingly employing illegal aliens. In the other case, the owners of two hotels in Overland Park, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., were charged with knowingly hiring illegal aliens for housekeeping jobs.

"ICE is committed to holding businesses accountable when they knowingly hire or retain illegal workers," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. "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 to level the playing field for businesses that play by the rules."

"Any employer who knowingly or negligently hires undocumented workers is violating federal law and contributing to the problem of illegal immigration," said Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas. "Kansas employers should be on notice that they have a responsibility to monitor their hiring practices and to help us safeguard this nation by hiring and maintaining a lawful workforce."

In the guilty plea, McCalla Corporation admitted that it knowingly employed an illegal alien. The company admitted that in March 2011 the company's director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a Social Security number not assigned to her. The director of operations told the McDonald's store manager she needed to provide him new documents to confirm her eligibility to work.

Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card. The director of operations knew the new card was not genuine. He knew that it takes weeks, not just two days, for a foreign national to obtain a resident alien card. Nevertheless, he updated the store manager's paperwork, and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. The store manager continued working as a store manager from May 2009 to September 2012.

According to court records, investigators learned that five of the six McCalla Corporation McDonald's store managers were unlawfully in the United States at the time they were employed, as were many other employees.

"Any attempt to minimize or excuse this kind of conduct is unacceptable," Grissom said. "We know these practices are widespread, and investigations similar to the McCalla case are under way."