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Company, owners admit bringing more than 100 unauthorized migrant workers to southeast Mo.

The workers harvested watermelons and cotton in Kennett. (Source: stock image/Pexels)
The workers harvested watermelons and cotton in Kennett. (Source: stock image/Pexels)(Pexels)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 4:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2022 at 8:40 AM CDT
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KENNETT, Mo. (KFVS) - A father and son from Florida and their labor company pleaded guilty to federal charges and admitted to bringing more than 100 unauthorized migrant workers to southeast Missouri in 2018.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri, 37-year-old Jorge Marin-Gomez and his father, 67-year-old Jorge Marin-Perez, each pleaded guilty Thursday, June 9 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful employment of aliens.

The Marin J. Corporation pleaded guilty April 28 to a felony wire fraud charge.

Marin-Gomez owned the Marin J. Corporation and was in charge of applying for visas for workers from Mexico. Marin-Perez was involved in the oversight and final decision making of the application process.

According to the release, the company, with the direct knowledge and approval of Marin-Perez and Marin-Gomez, applied for H2A visas stating that the workers would be employed in Florida harvesting watermelons and blueberries, but relocated many of the workers to a farm in Kennett. This was in violation of the terms outlined on the visa applications.

The workers harvested watermelons and cotton in Kennett.

The plea agreements stated Marin-Perez and Marin-Gomez knew that the location of the work was pertinent to approval of the applications.

They admitted to engaging in a “pattern and practice” of using immigrant workers in unauthorized locations from November 17, 2017 through October 20, 2018 and of illegally hiring approximately 104 workers.

The corporation is scheduled to be sentenced August 2 and the individuals on September 7.

In a settlement agreement with the Labor Department signed in February, the company agreed to pay $165,805 in back wages to 805 workers once housed in a former county jail in Missouri.

The company also agreed to pay a penalty of $75,000 for failing to provide meals, pay the required wage rate and for charging workers to obtain employment.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins is prosecuting the case.

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