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Worksite Enforcement

Maryland employer pleads guilty to hiring illegal aliens, money laundering

BALTIMORE - Robert T. Bontempo, Jr., 47, of Annapolis, Md., pleaded guilty Thursday, April 23, to hiring illegal aliens to work for his painting business and to money laundering, announced U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

"Companies who employ illegal aliens to make an unlawful profit and to gain an unfair advantage over businesses operating within the law should take note of today's guilty plea," said Scot R. Rittenberg, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, in Baltimore. "This case clearly demonstrates ICE's commitment to investigate companies who engage in illegal employment schemes and to target the profits that motivate their criminal activity."

"If we want to give law-abiding businesses a fair chance to compete it is essential that we prosecute employers who profit by hiring illegal aliens off the books," said Rosenstein.

According to the plea agreement, from 2003 through 2006 Bontempo, the owner and operator of Tempo Inc., a corporation doing business as Annapolis Painting Services (APS), knowingly hired and employed dozens of illegal aliens. Knowing the individuals he hired were not legally present in the United States, Bontempo failed to require his employees to provide proper documentation to show their legal status and failed to require them to properly fill out documents substantiating lawful employment. Bontempo provided leased accommodations for some of his illegal alien workers in one of the several rental units he and his wife owned. APS employees also transported some of the illegal aliens to and from their residences to worksites in company vehicles. Bontempo paid these illegal alien workers in cash until sometime in 2005 when he began paying them by check.

Bontempo used the profits from the operation of APS, part of which derived from of his hiring illegal aliens, to pay for a variety of business expenses, including his salary. His salary was in turn used to pay for the mortgage and operational costs of real estate holdings.

Bontempo has agreed to forfeit five bank accounts, 10 vehicles and seven properties bought or paid for with money earned from the operation of APS.

Bontempo faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for hiring illegal aliens and 10 years in prison for money laundering. U.S. District Judge Williams D. Quarles, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for Sept. 4, 2009, at 11:30 a.m.