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Owners Charged with Using Staffing Company to Employ Undocumented Workers

Three owners of KSO MetalFab Inc. (“KSO MetalFab”), an Illinois sheet metal fabrication company, were arrested on charges they used an employment agency, Metro Staff Inc. (“Metro Staff”), that was “knowingly engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring and harboring” undocumented workers. The owners are Dora Kuzelka, Kari Kuzelka, and Keith Kuzelka.  This case is a reminder of what should be obvious!

The matter started with an Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit of the I-9 forms of employees at KSO Metalfab in 2017. As a result of the audit, ICE issued a Notice of Suspect Documents determining 36 of its 67 employees were suspected of using fraudulent documents to obtain their jobs. Thereafter, KSO MetalFab responded by attesting that it had terminated all 36 of the identified employees.

However, after discharging the 36 employees, KSO MetalFab instructed the workers to go to Metro Staff, a local staffing agency so that they could return to the company. Metro Staff hired 18 of the 36 undocumented workers and placed them back at their old jobs at KSO MetalFab. According to ICE, “many of the workers used the same names that they previously used before the audit.”

The charge of knowingly harboring an illegal alien carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison while the charge of knowingly engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring illegal aliens is punishable by up to six months in prison.  On top of jail time, the penalties can be extensive.

If you are concerned about your company’s immigration compliance, including possible employment of undocumented workers, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.

Bruce Buchanan is a Partner at Sebelist Buchanan PLLC.  Mr. Buchanan is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas, and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and D.C. Circuit.