GALVESTON, Texas — An eight-count federal indictment was partially unsealed on Friday after two men were arrested for allegedly hiring illegal aliens in Winnie, Texas, to cleanup an oil spill near Marshall, Mich. The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Eastern District of Texas. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Phillip Taylor Hallmark, 48, the owner of Hallmark Industrial Services Inc. (HIS), and Thomas Gard, 47, manager at HIS, are charged in the indictment with the following:
- one count each of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens in the United States;
- concealing and harboring illegal aliens in the United States;
- inducing and encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States for commercial advantage and financial gain;
- six counts of transporting illegal aliens for financial gain;
- and one count of hiring at least 42 illegal aliens.
Hallmark, of Winnie, and Gard, of Nederland, Texas, turned themselves in to federal authorities March 2 and are expected to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner in Galveston.
According to the indictment, Hallmark and Gard sought to employ illegal aliens with little or no regard to their legal status. Ultimately, the defendants allegedly hired the illegal aliens for the oil cleanup and fraudulently completed work authorization forms on their behalf and provided false Social Security numbers to the illegal aliens. To further their employment, the indictment alleges the defendants transported the aliens from Winnie to Kalamazoo, Mich. (the area of the oil spill). Specifically, in counts two through seven, the indictment alleges that on Aug. 30, 2010, the defendants transported illegal aliens back to Winnie from Michigan knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that the aliens had come to the United States illegally. Also, to further the employment of the illegal aliens, the indictment alleges they paid the illegal aliens in cash.
Beginning in July 2010, after the oil spill, the defendants and other conspirators allegedly arranged lodging and meals for the illegal aliens in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Mich., to work in the cleanup operation. It was a part of the conspiracy that they, along with other conspirators, housed the aliens in hotels, and provided their meals and transportation to and from the worksite while they worked to clean the oil spill.
If convicted, Hallmark and Gard face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge and each of the transporting alien counts; they face an additional six months imprisonment and up to a $3,000 fine on the charge of hiring illegal aliens.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kebharu Smith, Jennie Basile and Al Ratliff, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.