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Small CT Bakery Owner Pleads Guilty to Federal Immigration Charge; Why Are Employers Defenseless Aga

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on January 27, 2011 that “Anthony DiBenedetto, 64, of North Branford, Conn., pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of unlawful employment of illegal aliens. This guilty plea is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). According to court documents

and statements made in court, DiBenedetto owns and operates Rocco's Bakery, with locations in New Haven and Meriden, Conn.” ICE alleged that from DiBenedetto employed at least 10 individuals for over a year at his bakeries knowing that they were not authorized to work. “U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz has scheduled sentencing for April 14, 2011, at which time DiBenedetto faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. DiBenedetto also may be ordered to forfeit a money judgment in an amount that will be determined by the court."

Per ICE press release, the matter has been investigated by ICE HSI and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.

Corporate Immigration Lawyer’s Take:

ICE’s strategy of going after employers is resulting in harsh prosecutions. Employers who do not take care in following ICE Best Practices, such as I-9 self-audits and I-9 Administrator training, are often defenseless before the government. Owners and management often believe that their I-9s are in good order, only to find out that most of I-9s, even with great companies, are flawed, and that “constructive knowledge" ( i.e. they should have known) is also punishable under Immigration Reform and Control Act. Written I-9 self-audits containing reports to management and proper staff training on Form I-9 issues are invaluable in helping companies comply and protect themselves in the context of employment eligibility requirements that are being harshly enforced by the government.

Posted by Mira Mdivani Corporate Immigration Attorney

TRAINING: I-9 Administrator Training Corporate Immigration Compliance Officer Training

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