Tuesday, December 4, 2012
A local corporation has pleaded guilty to an immigration charge after a federal investigation showed that the manager of one of its McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita was an undocumented worker who provided identification documents the company knew were false, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced today.
McCalla Corporation, a McDonald’s franchisee with offices at 9342 E. Central that operates six restaurants in Wichita, pleaded guilty to one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document offered as proof that an employee was eligible to work.
As part of the plea agreement, the corporation agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment.
The case is the second time this year that a Kansas company has been charged with knowingly employing undocumented workers. In the other case, the owners of two hotels in Overland Park, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., were charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers for housekeeping jobs.
“Any employer who knowingly or negligently hires undocumented workers is violating federal law and contributing to the problem of illegal immigration,” Grissom said. “Kansas employers should be on notice that they have a responsibility to monitor their hiring practices and to help us safeguard this nation by hiring and maintaining a lawful workforce.”
Employers that try to cut costs and gain an economic advantage over competitors by means of unlawful hiring practices are causing problems in Kansas and across the nation, Grissom said.
“We are all at risk when businesses knowingly hire falsely-documented workers,” Grissom said. “Such practices create a marketplace for unauthorized workers who may resort to obtaining and presenting false documents, completing applications for fraudulent benefits and stealing identities of legal U.S. workers.”
In the guilty plea, McCalla Corporation admitted that it knowingly employed an undocumented worker. McCalla Corporation owns McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita at 1630 S. Hillside, 11989 E. Kellogg, 501 E. Pawnee, 1219 S. Rock Road, 2418 S. Seneca and 1645 S. Webb Road. The company admitted that in March 2011 the company’s director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a Social Security number not assigned to her. The director of operations told the McDonald’s store manager she needed to provide him new documents to confirm her eligibility to work.
Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card. The director of operations knew the new card was not genuine. He knew that it takes weeks, not just two days, for a foreign national to obtain a resident alien card. Nevertheless, he updated the store manager’s paperwork and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. The store manager continued working as a store manager from May 2009 to September 2012.
According to court records, investigators learned that five of the six McCalla Corporation McDonald’s store managers were unlawfully in the United States at the time they were employed, as were many other employees. The count of conviction was representative of McCalla’s hiring and employment practices, Grissom said.
“Any attempt to minimize or excuse this kind of conduct is unacceptable,” Grissom said. “We know these practices are widespread, and investigations similar to the McCalla case are under way.”
For more information about how employers can help with immigration enforcement, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site at www.uscis.gov and click on E-verify.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated with the assistance of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.