KCK roofing company allegedly forced undocumented workers to pay kickbacks

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- On Tuesday, federal attorneys accused owners of a Kansas City, Kan., roofing company of demanding kickbacks from their undocumented workers.

A federal grand jury indictment alleges the owners of Century Roofing, 70-year-old Tommy Keaton of Shawnee and 55-year-old Graziano Cornolo of Lenexa, ”Intimidated and coerced undocumented workers to pay kickbacks….violating federal laws.”

Federal agents with Homeland Security arrested Keaton, Cornolo and 33-year-old Alberto Diaz-Hernandez, a crew leader at Century Roofing early Tuesday morning.

Federal agents arrested 3 on Tuesday at Century Roofing in Kansas Ctiy, Kan.,

Federal agents arrested 3 on Tuesday at Century Roofing in Kansas City, Kan.,

The indictment alleges Keaton and Cornolo used undocumented workers who were paid in cash to complete commercial and residential roofing projects in the Kansas City metro area.

Investigators say the pair used “unlawful tactics to enrich themselves at the expense of workers--including threatening to fire roofing crew leaders---unless they paid cash kickbacks,” to the two owners.

Authorities say Keaton and Cornolo also, “threatened to cause roofing crew leaders to be fired from jobs working for other companies”....and also threatened to, “report the undocumented workers to U.S. Immigration Authorities,” if crew leaders failed to complete work set by the defendants.

The roofing business has been under federal investigation for the last two years.

Tuesday afternoon all three defendants will be in federal court, at which time they’ll learn what charges they will face.

 

Federal agents arrested 3 on Tuesday at Century Roofing in Kansas City, Kan.

Federal agents arrested 3 on Tuesday at Century Roofing in Kansas City, Kan.

Charges in the indictment include:

  • Conspiracy to obtain forced labor and benefit from forced labor (count one).
  • Obtaining and attempting to obtain forced labor (counts 2,3 and 4)
  • Benefitting from forced labor (counts 5, 6 and 7)
  • Conspiracy to transport undocumented workers in the United States and encouraging undocumented aliens to remain in the United States for the purpose of financial gain (count eight)
  • Transporting an undocumented worker in the United States (counts nine and 10).
  • Harboring an undocumented worker (counts 11, 12 and 13)
  • Encouraging or inducing undocumented workers to reside in the United States (count 14-17)

“This joint operation reflects our commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice human traffickers,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge James Gibbons of HSI Chicago in a news release. “We are resolute in our efforts to not only arrest human traffickers, but also to rescue the victims.”

Upon conviction the charges carry the following penalties:

  • Counts 1-7 labor trafficking: Up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
  • Count 8: Up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Counts 9-17 Transporting, encouraging undocumented workers to remain unlawfully in the United States: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.