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- 08-10-2012, 11:15 PM #1
LA - Elevation company charged with employing illegal immigrants and concealing incom
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, 4:03 PM
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012, 4:17 PM
A Ponchatoula home elevation company is under indictment for employing illegal immigrants and concealing their income from the government.
A federal grand jury handed up an indictment Thursday charging Louisiana Home Elevations, LLC, and its owner, Christopher Benson, with conspiracy to harbor, encourage and induce illegal aliens, money laundering, illegal structuring and impeding IRS laws.
The 10-count indictment charges that between about January 2010 and August 2011 Benson regularly wrote checks from the company's account at Lacombe-based Central Progressive Bank to his project manager Adolfo Hernandez, who in turn cashed the checks and paid the illegal workers cash. Hernandez is listed as a co-conspirator in the indictment, which does not say how many workers were involved in the scam. Hernandez is not under indictment.
During 2010 and 2011, Louisiana Home Elevation issued "off the books payments" to LHE workers totalling more than $1.8 million," according to the indictment. At Benson's direction, the company did not report the payments to the IRS and 1099 forms were not issued to the workers, the indictment says.
Also, it says Benson further obstructed IRS laws by filing improper 1099 forms for Hernandez.
Because of the "off the books payments," Social Security and Medicare taxes were not withheld from workers' wages, resulting in more than $270,000 in tax loses, according to the indictment.
Benson could not be reached for comment Friday.
Last November, Central Progressive Bank failed and was taken over by the FDIC. It was bought at auction by New Orleans-based First NBC.
Richard "Dickie" Blossman Jr., Central Progressive Bank's former chief executive officer, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and false statements in an unrelated case last month. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
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Elevation company charged with employing illegal immigrants and concealing income | NOLA.comWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.