On October 28, 2010, a Missouri man was convicted by the U.S. District Court in Missouri for his role in a racketeering scheme that involved placing undocumented workers at hotels in 14 states, including several hotels in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. United States v. Dougherty, No. 4:09-CR-00143 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 10, 2010). Beth Phillips, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, indicated that “Mr. Kristin Dougherty was found guilty of racketeering, participating in a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (‘RICO’) conspiracy and wire fraud. He faces a possible sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $75,000.”

Ms. Phillips added that this was not an isolated criminal enterprise. The federal RICO indictment alleged . . .

an extensive and profitable criminal enterprise in which hundreds of illegal aliens were employed at hotels and other businesses across the country. Participants in the scheme used false information to acquire fraudulent work visas for the illegal workers, many of whom were recruited with false promises related to the terms, conditions and nature of employment. Once workers entered the United States, participants in the scheme kept control of the workers through threats of deportation and other adverse immigration consequences.

We have previously noted our concerns about hospitality employers that use the H-2B program to supplement seasonal staffing shortages. The Dougherty prosecution is another reminder of the serious consequences that can arise from fraudulent schemes or other unlawful activities in this area.