On November 1, 2010, the President of a California furniture manufacturing company was indicted criminally for continuing to employ 18 workers after an I-9 audit had revealed they were undocumented. United States v. Vartanian, No. 2:10-cr-01196 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2010). The President has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and faces a maximum sentence of 66 months in prison. The company’s Vice President previously pled guilty to similar charges, agreed to pay a $5,000 fine, and faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison. United States v. Eberly, No.2:10-cr-01126 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2010).

These prosecutions arose out of an audit by ICE of the company. ICE identified 61 workers who it claimed were not authorized to work, and the company represented to ICE that they had been terminated. In fact, the company continued to employ 18 of these workers and acted to shield them from detection.

The ICE agent in charge of this case stated that criminal prosecutions of employers that knowingly hire or retain undocumented workers were an important weapon in the country’s effort to reduce the demand for illegal labor.