Wash. farm fined $1 million for using illegal immigrants

May 1, 2012

A Washington state organic farm has been fined $1 million for firing, then rehiring illegal immigrants following a federal audit.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez leveled the fine recommended by federal prosecutors against Duvall-based HerbCo International Inc. on Tuesday in a Seattle federal court.

Three company officials, including CEO Ted Andrews, also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Prosecutors say HerbCo fired nearly 90 illegal immigrants because of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit, but rehired some of those workers, paid them cash and asked them to work at night because production began to drop.

A HerbCo employee tipped off ICE of the scheme, sending agents pictures of cash envelopes.

The $1 million will be paid over a 5-year period.