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Tue May 1, 2012
Wash. farm fined $1 million for using illegal immigrants
A Washington state organic farm has been fined $1 million for firing, then rehiring illegal immigrants following a federal audit.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez leveled the fine recommended by federal prosecutors against Duvall-based HerbCo International Inc. on Tuesday in a Seattle federal court.
Three company officials, including CEO Ted Andrews, also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.
Prosecutors say HerbCo fired nearly 90 illegal immigrants because of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit, but rehired some of those workers, paid them cash and asked them to work at night because production began to drop.
A HerbCo employee tipped off ICE of the scheme, sending agents pictures of cash envelopes.
The $1 million will be paid over a 5-year period.