Mushroom grower faces charges in Tangi Parish illegal alien investigation

Mushroom grower faces charges in Tangi Parish illegal alien investigation

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A Pennsylvania company pleaded guilty Tuesday to "harboring'' illegal aliens at a north shore farm, the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans said.

M.D. Basciani and Sons Inc., pleaded guilty to one count in a bill of information accusing the company of hiring the illegals at the Red Hill Mushroom Farm.

A news release Tuesday from the U.S Attorney's office explained the company has been ordered to forfeit more than $1 million it earned as a result of hiring the illegal workers. U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey also sentenced the company to three years of probation.

According to court documents, M.D. Basciani and Sons Inc. hired several of the same workers under different names after an immigration inspection revealed they were not authorized to work in the United States.

The U.S. Attorney's office said the company's records showed the workers had been "fired,'' but prosecutors say the workers actually continued to grow and pick mushrooms at the farm.

Federal authorities also said the Independence farm's manager and a supervisory employee have already pleaded guilty to a "pattern'' of employing the illegal aliens.

"It is important to ensure that all businesses are competing on a level playing field, and using illegal labor to increase profits will not be tolerated," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said in a prepared statement.

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