KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The president of a Kansas City, Mo., area roofing company pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to conspiring to hire illegal aliens to work for several area roofing companies. This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney John F. Wood, Western District of Missouri. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies.
Tony Evans, 49, of Stillwell, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah W. Hays July 29 to the charges contained in a May 29, 2007, federal indictment.
Evans was president until February 2006 of Mid-Continent Specialists (MCS), a Kansas corporation that has had offices in three states, including: Independence, Mo., Kansas City, Mo., Parkville, Mo., Pensacola, Fla., and Gulfport, Miss. Evans left MCS and opened Metro Roofing Services in February 2006.
By pleading guilty, Evans admitted that he participated in two separate conspiracies to encourage illegal aliens to enter and reside in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.
On March 28, 2001, 23 illegal aliens were arrested in Gravois Mills, Mo. These individuals had been at MCS job sites around the Lake of the Ozarks area. Most of those workers were deported to Mexico except co-defendant Luis Hernandez-Bautista, also known as Miguel Hernandez, 34, a citizen of Mexico residing in Kansas City, Mo. Hernandez-Bautista posted an immigration bond and MCS petitioned for him to remain in the United States as a skilled laborer. Shortly thereafter, Hernandez-Bautista borrowed $11,000 from MCS to help smuggle the deported workers back into the United States. Immediately upon their return to the United States, most of these illegal workers again began working on MCS job sites under the direction of Hernandez-Bautista.
Hernandez-Bautista set up a number of his own companies (including LH Roofing, LLP and LHB Roofing Inc.), all of which worked with MCS as "subcontractors" on various roofing jobs. Most of these companies set up by Hernandez-Bautista were set up as partnerships with most of the "partners" being illegal aliens who provided nothing to the partnership other than their labor. MCS only dealt with Hernandez-Bautista, and all payments to the actual workers on the various roofing jobs were made to Hernandez-Bautista, who deposited the checks into accounts he controlled. Hernandez-Bautista drafted checks to the various illegal aliens, who possessed sufficient identification to cash the checks.
All the roofers who worked with Hernandez-Bautista were illegal aliens who were unlawfully present in the United States, the majority having been previously deported in March 2001. These illegal aliens reported to MCS's office to get their job assignments. At this location, the illegal workers contacted Hernandez-Bautista who provided the various crews with the job sites for the given week. These job sites would be provided to Hernandez-Bautista through Evans.
"Most aliens who enter the United States illegally do so in order to obtain employment," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE seeks to disrupt this trend by prosecuting egregious employers who attempt to circumvent our nation's laws and take advantage of illegal aliens to unlawfully boost their bottom lines."
"Employers who hire illegal aliens jeopardize the security of our nation's borders and erode our economic vitality," Wood said. "This defendant not only relied upon hiring illegal aliens as part of his business model, but actually helped smuggle workers into the United States. Employers are an important line of defense to preserve the integrity of our immigration system, and we will not tolerate those who encourage and profit from illegal immigration."
When Evans left MCS and opened Metro Roofing Services, he continued to use Hernandez-Bautista and the illegal alien workers on Metro Roofing job sites. Metro Roofing paid Hernandez-Bautista and numerous illegal aliens using the same payment method that was used by MCS.
Approximately $5,518,809 was paid by MCS to Hernandez-Bautista and numerous illegal aliens in the course of the first conspiracy to hire illegal aliens. Approximately $740,823 was paid by Metro Roofing Services to Hernandez-Bautista and numerous illegal aliens in the course of the second conspiracy to hire illegal aliens from February 2006 until May 2007.
Evans is the sixth co-defendant to plead guilty to charges contained in the federal indictment. Hernandez-Bautista pleaded guilty on July 22, 2008 to his role in the conspiracies. Co-defendants Mario Bautista-Ojendiz, 26, of Grandview, Mo., and Dante Cardillo-Rendon, 25, Gaudencio Bautista, 32, and Abel Montiel-Angel, 38, all with unknown addresses, pleaded guilty to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. Bautista-Ojendiz and Cardillo-Rendon also pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.
Under federal statutes, Evans could be subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Ketchmark. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Social Security Administration.
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 figure 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.