Managers, supervisors, human resource personnel indicted for crimes stemming from the largest single-state worksite enforcement action in nation's history
JACKSON, Miss. – Indictments were unsealed Thursday against four individuals who were managers, supervisors or human resources personnel at Mississippi-based companies where federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed criminal and administrative search warrants in August 2019. ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Matthew T. Albence, HSI New Orleans Acting Special Agent in Charge Gilbert Trill, Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Rafiq Ahmad announced the unsealed indictments at a news conference Thursday in Jackson.
“This office has a successful history of prosecuting employers for violating our immigration laws, and today marks another step in ensuring that justice is fairly and impartially done, no matter the law-breaker. I want to thank our partners at ICE Homeland Security Investigations and our office’s federal prosecutors for doggedly pursuing these criminal violations. The indictments unsealed today mark the beginning, not the end, of our investigations and prosecutions. Rest assured that we will continue to pursue criminal wrongdoers and enforce our criminal laws wherever the evidence may take us,” said Hurst.
INDICTMENT OF SALVADOR DELGADO-NIEVES OF A&B, INC.
According to the indictment, Salvador Delgado-Nieves, 57, of Pelahatchie, Mississippi, was charged with three counts of harboring illegal aliens, three counts of assisting illegal aliens in falsely representing themselves to be United States citizens, three counts of assisting illegal aliens in obtaining false Social Security cards, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement officials when he denied having hired illegal aliens at A&B, Inc. in Pelahatchie.
Delgado-Nieves faces up to 74 years in federal prison and $2.5 million in fines for these criminal violations, as Counts 1-6 carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation, Counts 7-9 carry a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, and Count 10 carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
INDICTMENT OF IRIS VILLALON OF A&B, INC.
According to the indictment, Iris Villalon, 44, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was indicted on one count of harboring an illegal alien, and one count of making false statements when she denied that she had hired illegal aliens for employment with A&B, Inc., in Pelahatchie, and one count of causing false employer quarterly wage reports to be filed when she knew the Social Security number represented in such reports was not assigned by the Social Security Administration to that specific illegal alien employee listed therein.
Villalon faces up to 20 years in prison and $750,000 in fines for these criminal violations, as Count 1 carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine and Counts 2-3 carry a maximum of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
INDICTMENT OF CAROLYN JOHNSON AND AUBREY “BART” WILLIS OF PEARL RIVER FOODS LLC
According to the indictment, Carolyn Johnson, 50, of Kosciuskio, Mississippi, was a Human Resource Manager and Aubrey “Bart” Willis, 39, of Flowery Branch, Georgia, was the manager at Pearl River Foods LLC in Carthage, Mississippi. Johnson was indicted on six felony counts of harboring an illegal alien as well as one count of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Willis was indicted on five counts of harboring an illegal alien.
The indictment charges both defendants with harboring illegal aliens following the execution of federal warrants at the Pearl River Foods facility Aug. 7, 2019. Johnson was also indicted for fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a grant from the State of Mississippi for reimbursement for on the job training for employees of Pearl River Foods. As set forth in the indictment, Johnson submitted claims for reimbursement for training that never occurred.
If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum of up to 84 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines, with Counts 1-6 carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation, Count 7 carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation, and Counts 8-9 carrying a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation.
If convicted, Willis faces a maximum of up to 50 years and $1.25 million in fines, Counts 1-5 carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation.
Villalon, Johnson and Willis will appear for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Delgado-Nieves will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Ball at 2:30 p.m. Thursday for his arraignment. The case against Johnson and Willis has been assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III. The cases against Villalon and Delgado-Nieves have been assigned to U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Murray.
On Aug. 7, 2019, HSI, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, executed multiple federal criminal and administrative search warrants at seven sites across central Mississippi. This was the largest single-state worksite enforcement operation in our nation’s history, resulting in the detention of 680 illegal aliens and the prosecution of 119 illegal aliens for stealing the identities of American citizens, falsifying immigration documents, fraudulently claiming to be U.S. citizens, and illegal re-entering the country after being deported, among other federal crimes.
The investigations of federal criminal violations continue.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.