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

    Ex-employee says bosses at raided plant knew workers were undocumented

    I am starting a new thread on the Fresh Mark immigration raid story. The initial thread is becoming too long.
    See Initial thread at.

    Ex-employee says bosses at raided plant knew workers were undocumented

    Explosive Allegations in Whistleblower Lawsuit

    Scott Noll6:47 PM, Jun 20, 2018
    6:53 PM, Jun 20, 2018

    Salem, OH - A former human resources administrator for Fresh Mark says not only were bosses at the company's Salem plant aware of undocumented workers, she says they told her to help cover it up.

    Four Fresh Mark plants were raided by federal agents Monday and 146 workers were arrested for immigration violations.

    For Cindy Kovick, it felt like vindication.

    "Hallelujah! Finally getting to see justice," said Kovick.

    She worked at the Salem plant in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a human resources administrator. Part of her job was to sign-off on paperwork showing workers were who they said they were.

    But Kovick says in dozens of those cases the documents weren't worth the paper they were written on.

    "There’d be whiteouts, you could tell it was copy and pasted," recalled Kovick. "Social security cards with bad typing on them."

    She refused to sign-off on the documents, but says the requests from her bosses kept coming.

    "They even asked me to change somebody’s identity overnight," said Kovick. "Brought me a whole new set of paperwork which I refused to sign."

    Instead, she sent copies to immigration investigators and told her bosses.

    That's when she was fired.

    She laid out her allegations in a 2001 whistleblower lawsuit, but it was dismissed by a judge.

    For years, Kovick feared nothing would change.

    "Sad and pitiful that nothing was ever done," said Kovick.

    Not even when workers would die in the company's plants.

    According to OSHA records, it happened twice since 2011.

    In both cases an investigator with the Stark County Coroner's Office says the dead workers had aliases, including a case in December.

    The investigator said after family members told the coroner the man's true identity, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement asked for a set of the worker's fingerprints. The investigator said it was the first time in his 33 years with the office he could remember such a request from ICE.

    This week the agency said it's examing evidence that Fresh Mark knowingly hired undocumented workers.

    Kovick says it's about time.

    "Laws are laws," she said. "Either change the law or enforce them. One or the other."

    A spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the whistleblower's allegations. Instead she referred News 5's questions to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Fresh Mark, where ICE arrested 146 people, has trail of undocumented workers, including one who died last year

    Updated Jun 20, 5:16 PM; Posted Jun 20, 5:16 PM

    ICE agents arrested 146 people at the Fresh Mark packaging plant in Salem. (Evan Macdonald,

    By Adam Ferrise,

    SALEM, Ohio -- Fresh Mark, the meat packaging company federal immigration agents raided Tuesday and arrested 146 people, has a history of accusations that it hired undocumented immigrants for years to work at the facility

    One of them died there in December.

    An ex-employee said in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the Canton-based company in 2001 that the company knowingly hired undocumented immigrants and that employees often forged documents on behalf of workers.

    The claims by the ex-human resources employee mirror the accusations ICE officials said in a statement regarding the most recent arrests at the plant. ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement that the yearlong investigation revolved around undocumented workers at the plant using forged Social Security cards.

    The company also had two Guatemalans die working at one of their plants since 2011, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A man who died at Fresh Mark's Canton plant was an undocumented immigrant who was supposed to be deported, according to Stark County Coroner records.

    A political action committee, the Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC, picketed the company in 2011 and accused Fresh Mark of hiring undocumented immigrants.

    Fresh Mark spokeswoman Brittany Julian did not respond to multiple requests for comment, other than sending a statement acknowledging ICE agents were at their facility on Tuesday and that they were enrolled in a voluntary program with ICE aimed at ensuring companies hire lawful employees.

    Lawsuit accuses Fresh Mark of forging documents

    The 2001 lawsuit, filed by ex-employee Cindy Grove, accused Fresh Mark of conspiring to hire undocumented immigrants to work at their meat packing plants in the Canton area.

    Grove's lawsuit said the company made fake Social Security cards and Ohio identification cards. The company would find places for the workers to live and give them transportation to and from the plants, the lawsuit said.

    Human resources employees would falsify employee verification documents. Grove said she notified a supervisor, who did nothing. She also reported the company to Immigration and Naturalization Services. She was fired shortly after, the lawsuit says.

    Grove filed the lawsuit claiming whistleblower laws should have protected her from being fired. A Columbiana County judge ultimately sided with the company had the right to fire her.

    The company denied any wrongdoing.

    Deaths at the plants

    An undocumented immigrant working at the plant died in December after getting his foot caught it a meat-grinding auger, according to OSHA and the Stark County Coroner.
    Domingo Ramos, 49, was working at Fresh Mark's Canton plant on Dec. 16 when his foot got caught in the rotating auger. The auger ripped off the bottom part of his right leg, dragging it some 15 feet, the coroner's report said.

    He bled to death while employees and medics tried to pull him from the machine. His death was ruled an accident.

    When Ramos was brought to the coroner's office, however, Fresh Mark gave investigators documents that said Ramos' name was Samuel Martinez, the coroner's report said. Ramos' family gave his real name to the coroner's office while trying to ensure his body was sent back to Guatemala for burial.

    The coroner sent his fingerprints to ICE, who identified him as Ramos through immigration arrest records, the report says. The report said ICE told the investigators he was supposed to have been deported and that he was last known to live in New Orleans.

    Another Guatemalan native died at the same plant in 2011. Marcos Perez-Velasquez, 20, died Sept. 8, 2011.

    He was working at the plant as a sanitation crew member. He hosed down part of the part of the plant and brought a fan in to dry the water, according to OSHA records. He wasn't wearing gloves or any protective gear and was electrocuted to death while plugging the fan in, according to OSHA.

    Other OSHA complaints

    Along with the open OSHA investigation into Ramos' death, OSHA has two other safety violation cases against the company. An OSHA spokesman did not return several requests for information on those cases. They've had 12 cases with OSHA since 2009.

    The company was cited for a May 9, 2017 incident at the Massillon plant where an employee's left index finger was amputated as he cleaned a bacon vacuum machine and went to remove a piece of meat hanging from the conveyor belt, according to OSHA. The employee inadvertently removed a safety guard, turned on the machine and had his finger ripped off.

    They paid $27,200 in fines in 2016 and 2015 after workers suffered amputations while working at Fresh Mark plants, according to OSHA.

    In another case in 2009, an employee had two fingers amputated after he reached into a pepperoni wrapping machine to clear a jam and had two fingers crushed, according to OSHA.

    Cops couldn't figure out one employees identity in 2003

    Perry Township police in 1999 stopped a man who worked at the plant for walking over train tracks while the gate was down. That set off an investigation into the man's true identity because he had three different identification cards in his wallet with three different names, according to published reports at the time.

    The man eventually told police his name was Gregorio Calel, that he worked for Fresh Mark and that he had walked to Alliance from Guatemala in a months time, according to the newspaper accounts. He told police at the time he was an undocumented immigrant.

    He eventually pleaded no contest to the charge of obstructing justice.

    What is the company?

    Fresh Mark was founded in 1920 and packages meat under the brand names Sugardale and Superior's.

    It is a meat supplier with facilities in Canton, Massillon and Salem. The company supplies bacon, ham and hot dog meat to businesses and sports stadiums throughout Ohio, according to the company's website. One of the company's more popular products is the Sugardale Hot Dog, the hot dog often associated with the popular $1 hot dog days at the Cleveland Indians' Progressive Field.

    They were the first Ohio company to voluntarily join the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, a program that gives ICE increased access to companies and provides training to the companies regarding counterfeit documents, identity theft schemes involving undocumented workers and other regulatory issues, according to ICE.

    The program enrollment also ensures that ICE will not conduct a review of the company in the two years after they sign up and promised a reduce risk of lawsuits regarding undocumented workers. ICE will also waive some fines or reduce others relating to undocumented workers if companies sign up with the program.

    Who is Fresh Mark's CEO?

    Neil Genshaft serves as CEO of Fresh Mark, according to public records. He has a history of donating to local and national Republican candidates, but did not donate to President Donald Trump's campaign or any political action committees associated with it, according to state and federal campaign records.

    Genshaft, however, donated some $9,500 between 2012 and 2017 to campaigns for Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel who ran for U.S. Senate and became a staunch backer of Trump's anti-immigration policy, including the proposal to build a wall along the U.S. border to Mexico. Mandel eventually dropped out of the race in January.

    Multiple attempts to reach Genshaft were unsuccessful.

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Heart of Dixie
    Now, we hear from the enablers. Perhaps ICE should start looking at the Union membership roster....

    Fresh Mark union claims ICE 'slammed some folks to the ground' during raid

    SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) - The union representing the men and women who work at Salem's meat processing plant, Fresh Mark, is speaking out -- on how ICE agents handled the raid, the workers' children and the system the company uses to hire people.

    The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said it represents 2,800 members who work for the three Fresh Mark plants in Canton, Massillon and Salem that were raided on Tuesday.

    "They literally just slammed some folks to the ground and handcuffed them, and then started escorting people out," said Ryan Hadley, president of the Mid-South Council for the RWDSU.

    Hadley is the union representative for these workers. The video ICE released to the media doesn't show anything like what he's talking about.

    One local attorney said these raids take weeks, months or even years of surveillance. There's a lot going on behind the scenes when investigating how a company makes its hires and whether it's legal.

    Hadley said Fresh Mark hires by the book.

    "We're outraged about it. We have an employer, Fresh Mark, they follow the federal guidelines as far as checking people's credentials out. They use E-Verify, which is government-approved, on every employee."

    MORE: Fresh Mark's union president blasts arrests of Salem employees

    That's the issue here and it's something a lot of people have an opinion on.

    Sister Rene Weeks, with St. Paul Catholic Church, said none of these workers were stealing from Americans.

    "I don't believe they're all stealing our jobs. If they were, Fresh Mark wouldn't have a sign out there that says 'we're hiring.'"

    Now, both she and Hadley are focusing on children affected by the arrests -- children who don't know where their parents are. Hadley said there's 550 of them.

    The union is putting a task force together.

    "We are not going to walk away from these people. We're going to do everything we can to help them," Hadley said.

    Sister Rene said many churches are working together to help families with things like diapers, milk and other basic necessities. Even the plant workers proven to be here legally won't be getting back to work any time soon.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    ICE arrests over 140 workers at Ohio meatpacking plant following investigation into whether company knowingly hired illegal immigrants

    • Over 140 workers at an Ohio meatpacking plant were arrested by ICE agents
    • The arrests came after a yearlong investigation into whether Fresh Mark's meat processing plant in Salem knowingly hired people in the country illegally
    • Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said on Tuesday that the workers used fake identities belonging to US citizens to get their jobs
    • The plant's other locations in Massillon and Canton were searched
    • It was one of the largest workplace immigration raids in recent years

    PUBLISHED: 09:32 EDT, 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 02:47 EDT, 21 June 2018

    More than 140 workers were arrested at an Ohio meatpacking plant by federal agents following a yearlong immigration investigation.

    The investigation focused on whether the company knowingly hired people who are in the country illegally and used fake identities belonging to U.S. citizens to get their jobs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

    The arrests Tuesday come as the U.S. government steps up its focus on businesses that hire people in the country illegally as part of a broad range of immigration crackdowns under Republican President Donald Trump.


    More than 140 workers at a meatpacking plant in Ohio were arrested by ICE agents on Tuesday


    The arrests came after a yearlong investigation into whether Fresh Mark's meat processing plant in Salem knowingly hired people who are in the country illegally


    A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said most of the workers are from Guatemala

    The 146 arrests in one of the largest workplace immigration raids in recent years happened at Fresh Mark's meat processing plant in Salem, in northeastern Ohio. Immigration agents and local authorities also carried out search warrants at the company's two other locations in Massillon and its plant in Canton.

    Most of the workers arrested were from Guatemala, said Khaalid Walls, an agency spokesman.

    Several of those who were detained were processed and released on Tuesday because they are the sole care providers of children or they have health concerns, Walls said.

    Dustin White, a pastor in Canton whose ministry reaches out to dozens of Guatemalans working at Fresh Mark, said he was told by families that some workers were detained at the Canton plant as well.
    'From what I saw and heard they say their loved ones haven't come home,' White said a day after the raid. 'In many ways, the dust hasn't settled.'

    No criminal charges have been filed against Fresh Mark, but authorities say the investigation is continuing.

    The company makes bacon, hot dogs, ham and lunch meat for the Sugardale and Superior's brands.
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  5. #5
    MW is offline
    Senior Member MW's Avatar
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    North Carolina
    Dilly, dilly .......... to the pit of misery with the bosses that hired the illegals and covered up their fake identities!
    Last edited by MW; 06-21-2018 at 10:28 AM.
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    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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  6. #6
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Fresh Mark ICE probe preceded 2017 plant death

    Security Investigations (HSI) late Tuesday executed a criminal search warrant at Fresh Mark in Salem, in addition to federal document search warrants at Fresh Mark locations in Canton and Massillon. During the search warrant execution, authorities identified more than 100 Fresh Mark employees working at the Salem meat processor who were subject to arrest for immigration violations. (Photo courtesy of ICE)

    By Lori Steineck staff writer
    Posted Jun 20, 2018 at 10:32 AM
    Updated Jun 20, 2018 at 4:55 PM

    A man killed in an industrial accident at the Canton plant in December was a Guatemalan who worked at the plant with several family members for more than a year.
    Federal agents said they have been investigating immigration violations involving employees at Fresh Mark’s meat processing plants for more than a year.

    That’s roughly six months before a Guatemalan national was killed in an industrial accident in December working under an assumed name at the Canton plant.
    On Tuesday, immigration agents descended on Fresh Mark plants in Columbiana and Stark counties.

    The number of those arrested had grown to 146 people, “primarily from Guatemala,” on immigration violations, Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Wednesday.

    Of those, 98 are men and 48 are women, and all of them were arrested in Salem, he said.

    He could not supply a list of names.

    “For privacy reasons, we do not provide lists of individuals facing only immigration violations. Immigration arrests records are not public record like local or federal criminal charges,” Walls said.

    A news release from ICE Tuesday night stated the Homeland Security Investigations Unit went first on Tuesday to Fresh Mark’s Salem plant with a criminal search warrant and then three other locations with federal document search warrants. The locations were listed as 1600 Harmont Ave. NE in Canton, and Massillon locations at 950 Cloverleaf Street and 1888 Southway St. SW.

    All of those detained were taken to a federal processing facility, the location of which wasn’t listed in the news release. Those not in the country legally will be taken to Michigan and Ohio facilities to await their removal from the United States. Reports said the children of those detained were taken to a Salem church. First Christian Church posted a Facebook message Wednesday thanking the community for it support.

    “We are so grateful for the tremendous support of our church people and the larger Salem Community that has been offered to our friends in the Hispanic community recently. Thankfully all of the kids have been placed into safe and caring hands until they can be reunited with their families. Please pray that this can happen as soon as possible,” the message reads.

    ICE said its action “is part of a yearlong, ongoing HSI investigation based on evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired illegal aliens at its meat processing and packaging facility, and that many of these aliens are utilizing fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.”

    “Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders,” said Steve Francis, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio. “Businesses who knowingly harbor and hire illegal aliens as a business model must be held accountable for their actions.”

    It was unclear whether more arrests are possible.

    There did not appear to be any ICE action Wednesday morning at the Canton and Massillon plants, and it appeared they were operating. A spokesperson referred questions to federal investigators.

    With regard to hiring policies and international applicants, Brittany Julian, director of corporate communications for Fresh Mark Inc., said in an emailed response to a Canton Repository request, “Fresh Mark was the first company in Ohio to partner with ICE in the voluntary IMAGE program (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers). This program between the U.S. Government and private employers ensures a lawful workforce. To qualify for IMAGE certification, we do the following: participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program; establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits at least once a year; (and) submit to a Form I-9 inspection.”

    She added, “We do not have any additional information at this time.”

    Previous incidents

    Julian told the Repository in December that Domingo Alonzo Ramos had been working for the company for more than year when he was killed in an industrial accident at the Canton plant.

    Ramos was a Guatemalan who worked at the plant with several family members. He had been previously pegged for deportation and living under a fake name, investigators have said. Domingo Alonzo Ramos was going by the name of Samuel Martinez.

    He was was killed in December when he was dragged into a grinding machine. Stark County Coroner’s Office investigator Rick Walters said Ramos died when his foot became trapped in an auger. The machine, which grinds meat scraps for garbage, took off his leg.

    Authorities did not know Ramos’ true identity until his family went to a local funeral home to arrange the return of his body to Guatemala so he could be buried in the family cemetery, Walters said at the time.

    The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also looking into a May 16, 2017, incident. An employee cleaning bacon vacuum lines noticed a piece of meat hanging from a conveyor and reached to remove it, inadvertently pulling out the machine guard. The worker lost the tip of one of his fingers. OSHA’s review remained open as of Wednesday, its website shows.

    Its website also shows OSHA opened an investigation Sept. 28 into an undisclosed incident at the company’s Salem plant.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    When is the boss and owner going to JAIL?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member southBronx's Avatar
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    Now come out to Pittston Pa & get the rest of them & ship them home
    MW, jtdc, Newmexican and 2 others like this.
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    More employer raids need to occur on a much wider scale to a larger variety of products on a more frequent basis to send messages to businesses. In general, employers know they can get away with this illegal hiring. Even if raided, many businesses continue the same hiring, often through third party recruiting.
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    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    The welfare office needs to work with the unemployment office and these businesses who need workers.

    If you have been on welfare and not working for 12 months then you MUST take these jobs and reduce the amount of welfare and food stamp dollars accordingly.

    There are generations of families who have made a living out of staying on welfare and food stamps and there needs to be a limited lifetime benefit of no more than 5 years on assistance...then the benefits are terminated.

    One parent can work days and one can work nights.
    jtdc likes this.


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