ST. LOUIS — A father and son from Florida and their labor contracting company admitted in federal court last week to bringing more than 100 unauthorized migrant workers to Missouri in 2018.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri said 37-year-old Jorge Marin-Gomez and 67-year-old Jorge Marin-Perez pleaded guilty to unlawful employment of aliens. Their company, the Marin J. Corporation, entered a guilty plea on April 28 to felony wire fraud.
According to court documents, Marin-Gomez and Marin-Perez admitted to illegal hiring practices from Nov. 17, 2017, through Oct. 20, 2018.
Marin-Gomez, who owned the company, was in charge of applying for visas for workers from Mexico. Marin-Perez was involved in the oversight and decision-making for the application process.
The Marin J. Corporation applied for H-2A visas with the United States government, stating that the workers would be employed in Florida to harvest watermelons and blueberries. However, they relocated 104 workers to a farm in Kennett, Missouri, in direct violation of the visa applications. The workers were used to harvest watermelon and cotton in Kennett.
“These agricultural workers, who were likely looking to simply better their lives through hard work and an honest wage, were instead met with deceit from their employers,” said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Sean Fitzgerald.
Both Marin-Gomez and Marin-Perez signed a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor in February. According to that agreement, the company must pay $165,805 in back wages to 85 workers who were housed in a former county jail in Missouri. The company must also pay a $75,000 penalty for failure to provide meals and pay the required wage, and for charging workers to obtain employment.
The corporation is scheduled to be sentenced on August 2. Marin-Gomez and Marin-Perez will each be sentenced on September 7.
“Marin J. Corporation and its owners misused the H-2A visa program in order to enrich themselves at the expense of foreign workers and other American employers,” said Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.