Federal prosecutors say that a Spring Hill company hired illegal aliens and the business's owners went to great lengths to avoid detection in hiring dozens of illegal workers.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that a grand jury had indicted Advantage Framing and three owners of the business. Four crew leaders were also indicted.
The company issued checks to crew leaders who in turn chased the checks and paid undocumented workers, according to federal prosecutors. As many as 200 illegal workers may have worked for the company, authorities said.
Those indicted were Advantage Framing owners James Humbert, 44, his wife, Kimberly Humbert, 46, and her brother, Charles Stevens II, 50. The crew leaders indicted were Jose Ramon Caro-Corral, 57, Angel Arguello-Plata, 30, Dennis Erickson Portillo, 29 and Jorge Uriel Delgado-Ovalle.
Advantage employed up to 33 crews and each crew had five to six workers, authorities said. An Olathe police officer found $10,000 in cash one of the crew leaders during a traffic stop.
"Advantage required crew leaders to attend safety training meetings at the main office. At the meetings, additional topics such as how to react if investigators from the [federal] Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a site inspection were discussed," according to federal prosecutors. "Workers were instructed to tell OSHA they worked for a sub-contractor and not directly for Advantage."
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said the investigation is focused on the company's owners and managers. He said they knew they weren't providing adequate wages and benefits to workers they knew were illegal, putting them at a competitive disadvantage over law-abiding businesses.
"This isn't going to be a situation where we show up with a bus and put 30 or 40 people on the bus and drive them to the border," Grissom said. "We're going to look at each individual case."
The indictment alleges that the Humberts "practiced running a drill in the event that immigration officials came to the business. They remarked that the 'white guys would have no clue what to do while everyone else ran and hid.'"
Advantage did framing and trucking work. The workers who manufactured the actual framing at the plant were documented workers, authorities said. Those out in the field erecting the framing were illegals, prosecutors say.
One of the workers caught in Monday's raid had already been deported once. He was detained. Prosecutors on Monday seized $270,000 and are seeking up to $3 million in what prosecutors say were illegally gained assets.
The defendants face fines of up to $250,000 and 20 years in prison on the money laundering charges alone.
The investigation began in March based on a tip given to the IRS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Altogether, 31 crimes were alleged by the indictments.
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