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Thread: Dairy farm owner pleads guilty to using illegal labor

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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Dairy farm owner pleads guilty to using illegal labor

    Dairy farm owner pleads guilty to using illegal labor

    By - Associated Press - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

    CASS CITY, Mich. (AP) - The owner of two Michigan dairy farms pleaded guilty Tuesday to harboring workers who were in the U.S. illegally and agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million to the government.

    Denis Burke, an Irish immigrant, admits he employed more than 100 people who were in the U.S. without legal permission. Guilty pleas were also entered on behalf of his farms, Dunganstown Dairy and Parisville Dairy, both located in Michigan’s Thumb region.

    Burke “gave the illegal aliens free housing on or next to his farms so the illegal aliens would be readily available for work and less accessible to immigration authorities,” according to a plea agreement signed by Burke and federal prosecutors.

    He and the farms have agreed to pay $1.38 million to the U.S. government. Burke also could be sent to prison when he’s sentenced on Jan. 4.

    His wife, Madeline Burke, will be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bay City. She has agreed to pay $187,500.

    In 2016, a woman admitted that she conspired for years with eastern Michigan dairy farms to provide workers, including the Burke farms. Yolanda Stewart would help immigrants buy groceries, cash checks and send money to Mexico. She was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

    “By keeping the illegal workers on his farms and his farms in operation, Burke benefited financially and gained a commercial advantage over other dairy farmers who employed only legal workers,” the plea agreement says.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Owners of Michigan dairy face illegal labor charges

    Michigan Correspondent

    RUTH, Mich. — A co-owner of a dairy farm in the Thumb area of Michigan has pled guilty to hiring people to work on the farm without verifying they were eligible to work in the United States.

    According to a July 10 Associated Press news brief, the individual was Madeline Burke, co-owner of two dairies located in Huron and Tuscola counties. They are the Parisville Dairy and Dunganstown Dairy.

    According to a Sept. 22, 2016, report in, Burke, 50, her husband Denis Burke, 53 – along with their farm companies – were indicted last year by a federal grand jury. The charges against Denis Burke are still pending, according to the AP report. The report said Madeline Burke has agreed to pay a fine of $187,500, which amounts to $1,500 per illegal worker.

    Also according to the AP, Denis Burke is accusing prosecutors of selectively targeting immigrant workers, as he and his wife are natives of Ireland. In 2010, a Dutch couple operating a farm in the Thumb area was also prosecuted on similar charges. This latest development appears to be just the tip of the iceberg in a longstanding investigation regarding the use of illegal immigrants at area dairies and in other parts of Michigan, as well.

    According to a March 19, 2016 report in the Tuscola County Advertiser, three people were indicted by a federal grand jury in Bay City and faced charges for conspiring to deliver and help manage illegal immigrants at up to 17 dairy farms, at least some of which were located in Tuscola and Huron counties.

    Irene Maria Martinez Gonzales, Tina Frost and William Carlson were indicted March 9 of that year, according to the report. According to a Homeland Security affidavit cited in the report, Gonzales would find the immigrants places to live and work on the 17 farms that she serviced.

    Although the affidavit didn’t identify which farms, the document referred to raids at dairy farms in Cass City and Ruth in Huron County.

    “Martinez Gonzales explained that the farm operators routinely contacted her to let her know how many workers they needed,” the affidavit said.

    The indictment alleged that the three individuals charged “transported illegal aliens to farms in Huron and Tuscola counties, and elsewhere in the Eastern District of Michigan, to enable the illegal aliens to obtain work and the farms to obtain the services of the illegal alien workers.”

    Various other specifics of the trio’s activities are detailed in the article. Citing an indictment document, the article says the illegal activity went as far back as February 2008 and continued to as recently as January 2016. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, led the case.

    Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) Agricultural Labor and Safety Services Manager Craig Anderson responded to an inquiry by saying that MFB has always “supported compliance with the rules.” But he described as a fine line employers must walk when fulfilling these requirements.

    It’s easy to inquire too much into a person’s citizenship status as well as inquiring too little, he said. He also described the definition of “harboring” an alien as “incredibly broad” underimmigration law.

    He pointed to a case against the Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing, in which the companies had to pay a $225,750 fine because they required a specific document from non- U.S. citizen workers while not requiring a specific document from U.S. citizens.

    The Department of Justice described these as “discriminatory documentary practices when based on citizenship status or national origin” in a May 17 press release.

    Anderson recommended that employers use M-274, an employer’s handbook for completing the form I-9. “It’s important that employers review this and use the current form as well,” Anderson said.

    “That guidance can solve many of the problems that are out there.” The handbook is available online.

    Regarding the Dutch farmers mentioned above, a June 28, 2011 statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said a Michigan dairy farm and its two owners pleaded guilty to charges of employing illegal workers, following an HSI investigation. Johannes Martinus Verhaar and Anthonia Marjanne Verhaar are the owners of Aquila Farms, LLC., a dairy based in Bad Axe, Mich.

    Court records revealed that from about 2000 through 2007, the dairy employed 78 different illegal immigrants, which constituted almost 75 percent of its workforce over that time period. Aquila Farms failed to conduct the necessary inquiries to determine the employment eligibility of its workforce, as required by federal law.

    According to the statement, of the 78 illegal immigrants hired by the Verhaars, some were hired on multiple occasions using different names or social security numbers despite the Verhaars being notified by both the Social Security Administration and ICE that its employees were not authorized to work in the United States.

    “The defendants encouraged or induced the illegal aliens to reside in the United States by providing them with employment and free housing on the farm, away from scrutiny by ICE and the surrounding community,” the statement said.

    The couple, along with Aquila Farms as a separate entity, pleaded guilty to hiring illegal immigrants.

    The Verhaars and the farm agreed to pay fines and a payment in lieu of forfeiture totaling $2.7 million.

    Farm groups have long complained that their members are unable to find American workers willing and able to work on farms and have sought to increase the availability of legal immigrant labor through guest worker programs and a loosening of the immigration laws.
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  3. #3
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    This should be happening to ALL companies employing illegals. And to the others that employ visa workers to undercut American wages, you are just as bad.
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  4. #4
    MW is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by artist View Post
    This should be happening to ALL companies employing illegals. And to the others that employ visa workers to undercut American wages, you are just as bad.
    Folks directly responsible for hiring illegals and those providing them cover through paperwork need to spend some time in prison.
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  5. #5
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    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member posylady's Avatar
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    How do they decide who they go after for hiring illegals? They obviously pick and choose there are more than just these few that have been to court. Go after them all not just a few.
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