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Feds Allege Pennsylvania Staffing Firm Stockpiled Visas

December 15, 2009
A temporary employment agency in West Chester, Pennsylvania, allegedly stockpiled work visas by using fraudulent information and transporting illegal workers into the U.S., according to a court filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

International Personnel Resources Inc. submitted work visas using randomly selected names from a Mexican phone book, according to the federal criminal lawsuit. The firm also requested more immigrants than needed and forged clients’ signatures, the suit said.

“By falsely inflating the number of visas requested, defendants and their co-conspirators were able to create a pool of approved H-2B visas for the benefit of [International Personnel Resources’] clients and to the exclusion of other U.S. companies,” according to the lawsuit.

H-2B visas are designed for companies that cannot find Americans willing to work as temporary seasonal laborers. Given the nation’s cap on H-2B visas, the scheme left fewer available for companies trying to bring in workers lawfully, prosecutors said.

Owner and president Michael Glah is also accused of coaching immigrants to lie to U.S. immigration officials, and the company is accused of chartering buses to bring workers from Mexico to the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Also named in the criminal lawsuit are Theresa Klish, International Personnel Resources’ vice president and CFO; and office managers Mary Gillin and Emily Ford.

Approximately 430 illegal immigrants entered the U.S. because of the defendants’ activities, according to the lawsuit. The company also filed more than 1,600 false documents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Glah faces a maximum sentence of 95 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Klish faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine; Ford faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine; and Gillin faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The government is seeking the forfeiture of $1 million in this case.

International Personnel Resources represented country clubs, golf courses, construction firms and landscaping companies throughout the U.S. that were interested in employing people from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, according to the lawsuit.

Filed by Staffing Industry Analysts, a sister company of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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