Ridgeland business owners to be sentenced for employing illegal immigrants

WLBT reported this week that one of the owners of Love Irrigation who entered a guilty plea to harboring illegal aliens is scheduled to be sentenced today. Paul and Barbara Love were both charged with improper use of social security numbers and hiding the fact they hired illegal workers from immigration agents. Paul Love entered a guilty plea May 21 to harboring illegal aliens. As part of a plea agreement, the couple will pay a $515,000 fine, according to WLBT. Today’s sentencing could carry up to ten years in prison for Paul Love. Barbara Love is scheduled for sentencing on August 9th.

Note: I wrote the initial story when the news broke last November. Can’t post the link since it’s too old, but here’s the text:
2 charged in immigration case: Business owners facing felony counts

Owners of a landscaping business are facing federal charges for allegedly using illegal immigrant employees from 2003 through 2010.

Paul and Barbara Love of Ridgeland were arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Jackson on a multi-count indictment charging Love Irrigation with conspiracy, harboring illegal immigrants and encouraging illegal immigrants to reside in the United States.

Both entered not guilty pleas and were released on a $10,000 bond each.

Love Irrigation, a lawn irrigation and landscaping company, is accused of violating a section of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which “requires employers to hire only U.S. citizens and aliens who are authorized to work in the United States.”

Employers are required to attest they have verified employment eligibility of any persons hired after Nov. 6, 1986, using the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

According to the indictment, Love Irrigation employed illegal immigrants, despite certain immigrants admitting their status.

Paul Love, vice president and secretary, faces five felony counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States; bringing in and harboring illegal immigrants; encouraging illegal immigrants to reside in the U.S.; and misuse of Social Security numbers.

Barbara Love, president and treasurer, faces the same felony counts, including two additional counts of fraud and misuse of visas/permits/false attestation.

A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 9 before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate.

If convicted, Paul Love faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine. Barbara Love faces a maximum 40 years in prison, a $1.5 million fine and five years probation.

The U.S. attorney’s office would not comment, said secretary Sheila Wilbanks.

Frank W. Trapp of Jackson, the Loves’ attorney, said he is evaluating the case with his clients.

As far as employing Hispanic workers under federal immigration regulations, “they’re just like many other small businesses caught in a vice,” Trapp said without elaborating.

According to the indictment, in May 2008, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement visited Love Irrigation and told Paul and Barbara Love how to properly complete I-9 forms, verify Social Security numbers and participate in the E-Verify program.

Upon reviewing 21 I-9 forms, ICE noticed seven unauthorized employees and ordered the Loves to terminate them.But Love Irrigation continued to employ them and hide them from detection, according to the indictment.

The Loves classified the employees as “contract labor” and ceased reporting them to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security as required by law, the indictment says.

Furthermore, the Loves stopped paying the illegal employees with company checks and began paying them in cash at off-site locations, according to the indictment. Crew supervisors were instructed to pick up and drop off illegal employees at covert locations, the indictment says.

The indictment further alleges that, in 2010, Love Irrigation began submitting names of its illegal immigrant employees to MDES, using the same names and Social Security numbers for some and used different numbers for others previously identified by ICE in 2008.

In 2010, Paul and Barbara Love also began falsifying I-9 forms, listing false employment start dates for various illegal immigrants while listing different Social Security numbers from those used by the same employees on past forms reported to MDES, the indictment says.

ICE served a search warrant on Love Irrigation’s offices in July 2010.

As a result of committing the alleged offenses, Paul and Brenda Love and Love Irrigation were ordered to forfeit $220,109.67 from accounts with First Commercial Bank.

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4 thoughts on “Ridgeland business owners to be sentenced for employing illegal immigrants

  1. Barbara Love received 6 months house arrest and no monetary fines. It was part of a plea deal by Paul Love to keep her out of jail. He has yet to be sentenced

    • Hi Josh, I read Paul’s plea agreement and don’t see where Barbara wouldn’t have to pay fines. I know she got no jail time and is currently serving house arrest. Paul had his sentencing this morning and I’ll wait for the order for appear in the docket before making another post. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

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