by Neetu Chandak
A Tennessee slaughterhouse owner pleaded guilty Wednesday for hiring illegal immigrants along with charges related to tax fraud.
James Brantley, 61, is the owner of Southeastern Provision and avoided paying $1.3 million in federal payroll taxes over the past 10 years as a result of hiring illegal immigrants, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Brantley previously reported to the Internal Revenue Service he had 44 wage-earning employees, but officials who searched the facilities in April found 104 unauthorized aliens. The unauthorized workers were often asked to work overtime at their regular wages of $8 to $10 an hour instead of receiving extra wages required by the Department of Labor for overtime work, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee Wednesday.
Brantley knowingly hired illegal immigrants to decrease the tax obligation for him and his business, “unemployment insurance premiums, unemployment tax obligations, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums,” the attorney’s office reported.
He could face up to six months in prison for hiring the illegal immigrants along with a fine of no more than $3,000 for each unauthorized alien. Brantley agreed to pay over $1.4 million in restitution prior to his sentencing on Feb. 4, 2019, the Eastern District of Tennessee release said.
Brantley also faces fines and prison time related to tax and wire fraud charges. He was released on a bond because he was not a danger to the community, according to the Eastern District of Tennessee.
“Many of these people were held without bond,” U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer said about the unauthorized workers, the Sentinel reported. “Most of them have already served a period of four to six months in jail they most likely would not have served.”
Brantley filed a plea agreement with the U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tennessee, on Aug. 16, WBIR reported. He had been hiring illegal immigrants since 1988.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests between Oct. 1, 2017 to July 20, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Eastern District of Tennessee did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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