Recently, azcentral.com ran a story about an Arizona business that has reached an agreement with federal officials after the company was called into question about hiring undocumented immigrants. The company, Danny's Family Car Wash, has been involved in a federal court case that led 14 managers from the organization to admit to “taking part in a scheme orchestrated by top executives to rehire [undocumented] workers and provide them with fraudulent identities.”
However, while these 14 managers admitted to their wrongdoing after being indicted, Daniel “Danny” Hendon, the owner of the business, was never formally indicted by federal prosecutors. That is why it came as a surprise when Hendon pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge in Phoenix in U.S. District Court.
For the state of Arizona, this case is considered to be “one of the largest federal work-site enforcement cases.” The plea from Hendon proved to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents that the plan to rehire undocumented workers came from high-up within the company. A spokesperson for ICE, Amber Cargile, said that this investigation “yielded evidence that the corporate leadership was involved in a criminal conspiracy to rehire unauthorized workers using stolen identities.”
Around the same time that Hendon was admitting his guilt, 18 corporate entities which make up the car wash chain filed guilty pleas, as well. Each admitting a “pattern and practice” that included hiring and employing immigrants with the knowledge that they “were not authorized to work in the U.S.”
Armed with search warrants, ICE agents arrived at more than 10 Danny's locations in August of 2013. During the search, thirty workers got arrested. Apparently, in 2011, more than 900 immigrant workers were fired from Danny's after an audit found that they were unauthorized to work in the U.S.
However, managers at Danny's “systematically rehired many of them.” It was Hendon who admitted that he had began discussing with his managers about how they could hire those employees back. Back then, Hendon thought that if they could somehow get around the federal government's E-Verify system, they “could not get into trouble.” He thought that it would be better for him not to get too involved in the details of the scheme. “In short, I turned a blind eye toward the rehiring of unauthorized aliens that was occurring at (the car washes)," Hendon said.
Hendon's sentencing is scheduled for October 20 of this year. In his plea agreement, it was agreed that he would be given as much as eight months to transfer the company over to his daughter, Heather Hendon. Danny Hendon is facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. However, federal prosecutors have agreed to request that Hendon be allowed to serve half of his given prison sentence in home confinement.
As for the corporate entities, their sentencing is scheduled for November 3, 2014. These 18 organizations face fines for as much as $699,00 - “$3,000 for each of the 233 unauthorized workers who were employed at Danny's Family Car Wash locations when the company was raided by ICE.”