Sometimes, when a local company tries to hire workers to catch chickens following federal hiring guidelines and laws, they discover that potential employees want to know if they will be paid in cash. By paying in cash, criminals avoid filing paperwork like Form 1099 Income with the government. This puts up a red flag that the employer might be hiring illegal aliens. If they are caught, events could unfold as they have in one case in the state of Arkansas.
On Friday, July 16, 2010, the company, Amador-Villenueva Contracting and J&A Loading, was charged with hiring and harboring 33 illegal immigrants plus laundering over $8 million in the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, before Judge Robert T. Dawson. The owners of the business were the two oldest Amador-Villenueva brothers, Leoncio, 42 and Juan, 44.
The investigation was initiated after federal officials received information from “sources stating they were having a hard time hiring employees to catch chickens because the potential employees questioned whether they were going to get paid in cash as Amador Poultry pays its employees,” according to court documents.
The two brothers along with their younger brother Jose Manuel Amador-Villenueva, 39, had all previously plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to harbor, transport and employ illegal aliens. Also prosecuted in the case was Leoncio’s wife, Kelle Stubbs-Amador.
Pleading guilty to a single count of money laundering, Lenico Amador-Villanueva received a sentence of 18 months of a recommended guideline of 30 to 37 months in prison with three years of supervised probation. Lenico along with his wife were also ordered to forfeit almost $640,000 in cash and assets worth an estimated $160,000 as part of a plea agreement.
Kelle Stubbs-Amador plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to harbor, transport and employ illegal aliens and received a sentence of three years of supervised probation. Judge Dawson stated in response to his leniency in her sentencing to believing that her criminal activity was primarily a product of her spouse and also cited the couple’s five children, including twins born in June.