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October 18, 2019Chicago, IL, United StatesLabor Exploitation

4 Chicago-area manufacturing company operators federally charged with knowingly hiring illegal aliens

CHICAGO — Four operators of a suburban Chicago manufacturing company were charged in federal court Friday with knowingly hiring and harboring illegal aliens.

The complaint and arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., Northern District of Illinois and Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Social Security Administration provided valuable assistance.

The following four operators were charged with one count of knowingly harboring an illegal alien and one count of knowingly engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring illegal aliens: Dora Kuzelka, 81, of Elgin, Illinois; Kenneth Kuzelka, 62, of Chicago; Kari Kuzelka, 56, of Elgin; and Keith Kuzelka, 58, of Elgin.

The Kuzelkas knowingly hired at least 18 illegal aliens at KSO MetalFab Inc., a sheet metal fabrication company in Streamwood, Illinois, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Keith Kuzelka left the company last year; the other three Kuzelkas continue to serve in executive management positions, the complaint states.

Dora Kuzelka, Kenneth Kuzelka and Kari Kuzelka were arrested Oct. 18; Keith Kuzelka self-surrendered to authorities.

All four defendants made initial appearances in federal court in Chicago Oct. 18 and were ordered released on recognizance bonds.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan scheduled their status hearings for Oct. 29.

According to the complaint, HSI’s Chicago office conducted a civil audit of KSO MetalFab in 2017 and determined that 36 of the company’s 67 employees were suspected of using fraudulent work authorization documents to verify their eligibility for employment.

HSI served the company with a written notice of the suspected violations. The company responded by attesting that it had terminated all 36 of the identified employees.

KSO MetalFab later re-hired at least 18 of the previously terminated workers by utilizing a staffing agency, the complaint states.

KSO MetalFab instructed the workers to go to the staffing agency so that they could return to the company after the audit, the charges allege.

Many of the re-hired workers used the same names that they previously used before the audit, the complaint states.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt. The four defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Knowingly harboring an illegal alien carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; knowingly engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring illegal aliens is punishable by up to six months in prison.

If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Young and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Parente and Michelle Petersen represented the government.