On May 4, 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that HerbCo International, Inc., a Washington based supplier of organic herbs, was sentenced to pay $1 million in criminal fines for knowingly hiring and concealing illegal workers at their Duvall packing plant while the company was in the midst of an I-9 audit. In addition to the fine, three of the company’s top executives were sentenced to one year probation following guilty pleas to misdemeanor offenses of aiding and abetting a pattern or practice of employing illegal aliens.
Working from a tip that HerbCo hired illegal aliens, officials began an I-9 document audit in early 2011. The audit revealed issues and discrepancies with hundreds of the company’s I-9 forms. Within days of notification of the problems, HerbCo terminated more than 80 employees who could not verify their authorization to work in the United States.
Officials later learned that HerbCo subsequently hired several of those illegal workers back. The company paid the workers in cash created a secret night shift for them to avoid suspicion.
The entire ICE news release may be accessed at www.ice.gov/news/releases/1205/120501seattle.htm.