Texas construction executive sentenced for hiring undocumented workers

State News

Construction workers build a new Centex home Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A senior executive of a North Texas construction company is going to prison for his role in a scheme to employ undocumented immigrants.

In January, Robert James, chief financial officer for the Kennedale, Texas-based Speed Fab-Crete, agreed to forfeit $3 million. On June 16, he was sentenced to three months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $69,000 fine for “bringing in and harboring illegal aliens,” according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release.

Texas contractor sentenced to prison for worker visa fraud

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas conducted a criminal investigation into the concrete manufacturing company and a staffing agency. Speed Fab-Crete’s three owners, Carl Eugene Hall, Ronald Alan Hamm, and David Leon Bloxom, and the owner of Take Charge Staffing, Mark Sevier, have all pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Investigators said Speed Fab-Crete attempted to disguise the employment of unauthorized workers by placing them on the Take Charge payroll. The defendants admitted lying to the government by stating that they fired the workers.

A 2016 HSI inspection found that 39 of 106 Speed Fab-Crete employees were not authorized to work in the U.S.

HSI agreed not to conduct another inspection for six months to allow the company to fix the issue. The company also pledged to continue using the federal government’s employment eligibility verification system; comply with new internal verification procedures; conduct company-wide training on immigration compliance; and discipline those who attempt to employ unauthorized workers.

Left with a depleted workforce, Hall asked Sevier to transfer the unauthorized workers onto Sevier’s payroll, then assign them to Speed Fab-Crete.

Initially, investigators said, Sevier refused and instead promised to supply legal workers. But in September 2016, Sevier changed his mind.

Speed Fab-Crete fired 39 unauthorized workers and sent 23 of them straight to Take Charge Staffing, which hired them and assigned back to Speed Fab-Crete. All 23 were back to work at Speed Fab-Crete the following Monday, the release said.

Investigators said that from September 2016 to August 2017, Hall approved all of Sevier’s invoices for the unauthorized workers.

Hall and Sevier face up to five years in federal prison. Bloxom and Hamm face up to six months in federal prison. As part of the plea agreements, each individual must pay a $69,000 fine, equal to $3,000 per worker.

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