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Company busted in identity verification scam

Feb 25, 2011 Brian Bradley

A Mississippi company plead guilty on Thursday to charges of conspiracy to violate immigration laws after authorities found that it hired illegal immigrants and tried to obtain identity verification records, WLOX-TV reports. Howard Industries, based in Hattiesburg, reportedly "encouraged" the inclusion of illegal immigrants into its workforce, using sketchy identity verification practices to pass them off as legal workers. Authorities told WLOX that the company knew it was breaking federal laws, but continued its practice anyway. Charges stemming from the conspiracy include concealing, harboring and shielding the company from exposure and "recklessly disregarding" state and federal laws. Furthermore, authorities found that the company was applying with the Social Security Administration for proper identity verification forms, even though many of its workforce were not eligible to receive such documentation. "The unlawful actions by companies like Howard Industries in this case contribute significantly to the problem of illegal immigration in the United States," said United States Attorney John M. Dowdy, Jr. in a statement The company was already on ICE's radar following an August 2008 raid that led to the arrest of 600 illegal immigrants. In response to the latest charge, the company will pay $2.5 million in federal fines.