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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Jury convicts Missouri man for racketeering enterprise engaged in forced labor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A local man was found guilty on Thursday for his role in a criminal enterprise that engaged in forced labor and other related crimes.

This case was investigated by the following agencies: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the FBI; the Department of Labor; the Internal Revenue Service; the Kansas Department of Revenue; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and the Independence, Mo., Police Department.

Kristin Dougherty, 51, of Ellisville, was convicted in the Western District of Missouri on Oct. 28 for his role in a criminal enterprise involving illegal aliens working in 14 states, including employees at hotels in the Kansas City, Mo., area, and in Branson, Mo.

Dougherty was found guilty of all three counts of racketeering, participating in a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) conspiracy, and wire fraud that were contained in a Jan. 7 superseding indictment.

The federal RICO indictment alleges an extensive and profitable criminal enterprise in which hundreds of illegal aliens were employed at hotels and other businesses across the country. The criminal enterprise used false information to acquire fraudulent work visas for these foreign nationals. Many of these workers were recruited with false promises related to the terms, conditions, and nature of their employment. Once the enterprise obtained the workers' presence in the United States, it maintained their labor through threats of deportation and other adverse immigration consequences.

Dougherty, as vice president of sales and marketing for Giant Labor Solutions LLC, was involved in recruiting and exploiting foreign national workers. Dougherty also controlled the following three businesses used to facilitate the scheme: Anchor Building Services, People Inc., and Hotel and Resort Services. These businesses employed illegal workers and were used to obtain additional illegal workers.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City deliberated for four hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith, ending a trial that began Oct. 25.

Under federal statutes, Dougherty is subject to a sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $750,000. Nine defendants have pleaded guilty to charges related to this case; three remaining defendants are fugitives.

This case was prosecuted by: Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Meiners and Trey Alford, Western District of Missouri, and Trial Attorney Jim Felte from the Civil Rights Division Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.