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Feds Uncover “Expansive” Illegal Alien Hiring Scheme in South Carolina Construction Industry

author Published by Chris Pierce

Federal prosecutors in the state of South Carolina have secured dozens of guilty pleas from people involved in S.C.’s construction industry who illegally hired unauthorized aliens and paid them through unlicensed check-chasers to avoid detection by the Internal Revenue System.

The guilty pleas are just the first signs of what federal prosecutors called an “expansive” undercover investigation of construction companies and contractors along the South Carolina coast who hired illegal aliens and defrauded the government of tens of millions of dollars in taxes from employers and illegal employees.

Additionally, The Washington Times reports, “The unscrupulous businesses also were able to undercut other construction companies that were following the law, authorities said.”

Ronnie Martinez, special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations in the Carolinas, added:

The biggest misconception about labor exploitation is that it’s a victimless crime, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. This case is shedding light on a crime that has happened in the shadows for too long.

Court documents show that the unscrupulous construction businesses were able to ‘remain in shadows’ for so long because they were frequent customers of unlicensed check-cashers to avoid their financial dealings being reported.

The Washington Times details the seedy business practices between conscienceless construction companies, the unlicensed check-cashers, and the illegal aliens:

The two parties would meet in parking lots and the construction company executive would turn over a check, and the casher would provide cash, minus a 3% fee, as well as paperwork claiming employees were covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, there was no insurance coverage, the government says.

The construction executives would use the cash to pay employees outside of the company’s payroll system, avoiding withholding and paying the combined federal payroll tax of 15.3%. The arrangement also shielded personal income from the IRS, prosecutors charged.

One such company, Duran Masonry, admitted in a plea agreement to withholding just shy of $100,000 from the Feds over four years through this scheme. Duran Masonry pleaded guilty to one felony count of “conspiracy to defraud the U.S.” and one misdemeanor count of employing an illegal alien. The Washington Times adds that “eleven other defendants, spread across seven companies, have reached similar plea deals.”

M. Rhett DeHart, acting U.S. attorney for South Carolina, stated:

Those who steal from the government, and by extension the American taxpayers, will not find refuge in South Carolina. By evading millions of dollars in taxes and falsely claiming their workers had insurance, these defendants made it harder for honest business owners to compete in the construction industry along South Carolina’s coast and they left their workers exposed to injury without insurance.

Court documents made no mention of what came of the illegally employed aliens, but NumbersUSA reported earlier this month that Secretary of DHS Alejandro Mayorkas had instructed the department to cease workplace enforcement operations.

For the complete story, please visit The Washington Times.

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