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March 1, 2021Chicago, IL, United StatesLabor Exploitation

Chicago staffing company executive sentenced for assisting in hiring noncitizens

CHICAGO — A former executive vice president of a Chicago staffing company was sentenced Monday in federal court for assisting an area sheet metal company with the hiring of undocumented workers.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Sergio Badani, 51, of St. Charles, Illinois, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis sentenced to two years’ probation on one count of conspiracy to commit harboring for purposes of commercial advantage. Judge Ellis also fined Badani $15,000. He had previously pleaded guilty to the charge last year.

“When businesses knowingly hire an illegal workforce, it threatens the integrity of our country’s immigration system, economic health and puts the security of our homeland at risk,” said acting Special Agent in Charge R. Sean Fitzgerald of HSI Chicago. “HSI is committed to protecting our communities from the abuses of corrupt business owners seeking to gain an illegal advantage and make a steep profit off the backs of others.”

Court records and evidence at trial show Badani used his role as vice president of operations for a large staffing company to knowingly conceal the true identities of 17 noncitizen workers from the U.S. government. These employees had previously been identified by HSI as noncitizens during a civil employment audit of KSO MetalFab Inc., a sheet metal fabrication company in Streamwood, Illinois. After the business owners assured the government the identified noncitizens were terminated, they then worked with Badani to hire those same workers back using false identity documents. Badani admitted that he learned of the illegal scheme and assisted in concealing the information from the government while his staffing company continued to collect more than $1 million in fees from the factory owners. Badani also admitted that he received a portion of the profit from this contract in the form of monetary bonuses.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“Undocumented workers are at a significant disadvantage in the workplace, making them much more likely to be exploited by employers,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher V. Parente and Ashley A. Chung argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.

Four employees of KSO MetalFab Inc., were previously charged in federal court with knowingly hiring and harboring undocumented workers. They pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Updated: 03/02/2021