SEATTLE - A Seattle-area drywall company and its owner were sentenced in federal court Thursday to financial penalties and a probationary sentence for repeatedly hiring undocumented workers in violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
DJ Drywall, Inc., and its owner David L. Jones, 47, pleaded guilty in February to knowingly encouraging and inducing a Mexican national to reside in the United States in violation of the law.
The guilty plea followed three separate probes by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and two civil fines resulting from the company’s illegal hiring practices.
“This employer repeatedly hired an illegal workforce as though the rules did not apply to him,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Allowing some businesses to ignore hiring rules creates an uneven playing field for all. These prosecutions are aimed at stopping this conduct and eliminating conditions for workers that are often unsafe and unsound.”
According to court records, Jones has a long work history in the drywall industry. He incorporated the company in 2006 and serves as its president and sole stockholder. In 2008 and 2011, DJ Drywall was audited by HSI, and paid fines for violating immigration rules related to I-9 forms, the documents required to prove employment eligibility. The company paid $32,316 in 2008 and $27,405 in 2011 for knowingly hiring unauthorized aliens. A third investigation in 2013 revealed a pattern of hiring unauthorized workers - paying them “off the books,” and encouraging them to submit false employment authorization documents, including fraudulent permanent resident cards, commonly called “green” cards.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Jones forfeited $25,000 at the sentencing hearing. He will be on probation for two years; the company will be on probation for five years and will pay a $75,000 fine over the next five years. While on probation Jones will be required to qualify all of his employees through the E-Verify internet system.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Reno, an ICE attorney designated to prosecute immigration crimes in federal court.