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Arizona drywall company president sentenced for employing illegal aliens

TUCSON, Ariz. – The president of a Sierra Vista drywall company was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation and ordered to pay fines totaling $450,000 following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that revealed the business employed illegal aliens.

Ivan T. Hardt, 45, of Cananea, Mexico, the president of Sun Drywall and Stucco, Inc., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins. As part of a plea agreement, Hardt also agreed to pay $225,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Labor for overtime back wages owed under the Fair Standards Act and an additional administrative forfeiture of $225,000 to ICE. To date, Hardt has paid the full amount owed in restitution and $75,000 of the forfeiture agreement.

"Today's sentence should serve as a warning to employers who knowingly circumvent our nation's hiring laws," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "Hiring unlawful workers not only fuels illegal immigration and perpetuates a shadow economy, but it negatively impacts job opportunities for our nation's lawful work force. HSI will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office to aggressively investigate and prosecute these cases and hold such employers accountable."

Hardt was arrested following a 16-month HSI Arizona investigation into the company's hiring practices that determined Sun Drywall had employed at least 27 illegal aliens and the company did not present employment documents when asked during a federal inspection.

Sun Drywall also pleaded guilty to unlawful employment of aliens and the company was sentenced to five years of probation. Under the probation terms, the company cannot knowingly hire, recruit or employ illegal aliens and is required to maintain employment verification forms for each employee. The company also agreed to waive the three-day notice requirement for federal inspection of employee files during the probation period.

HSI Arizona was assisted in the investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorney Jane L. Westby of the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.