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April 1, 2013

Spring Hill company, owners, charged with harboring illegal aliens

A grand jury has charged a Spring Hill construction business, its owners and four others with harboring illegal aliens and money laundering, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

A grand jury has charged a Spring Hill construction business, its owners and four others with harboring illegal aliens and money laundering, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

Advantage Framing Systems, Inc., its owners, James and Kimberly Humbert and Charles Stevens II, and four of its framing crew leaders, Jose Ramon Caro-Corral, Angel Arguello-Plata, Dennis Ericson Portillo and Jorge Uriel Delgado-Ovalle, were accused of systematically using undocumented workers in the business between 2005 and February.

The company provides builders and contractors with floors, walls and roof truss systems and provides the labor to erect the systems on site, according to the indictment.

“The indictment alleges the defendants devised a scheme to lower their operating costs and boost their profits by employing undocumented workers,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a written statement.

The company did not pay Social Security, unemployment insurance or workers compensation for those employees, Grissom added.

By using undocumented workers, the company put itself at an unfair competitive advantage to other firms that hired only legal workers, “allowing the defendants to bid for contracts at a lower rate than their competitors,” the indictment alleged.

At “safety training meetings” held in Spring Hill, workers were instructed to tell inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that they worked for a sub-contractor and not directly for Advantage, the indictment alleged.

The Humberts also once discussed running a drill to practice what to do if immigration officials appeared at the office, the indictment alleged.

“Both James Humbert and Kim Humbert remarked that the ‘white guys would have no clue what to do while everyone else ran and hid,’” the indictment alleged.

The defendants allegedly made about $4.6 million from the scheme, according to the indictment.

Some of the defendants were scheduled to appear at an initial hearing late Monday afternoon in federal court in Kansas City, Kan.

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