Men Face Hard Time for Immigration Crimes

HOUSTON (CN) – Two Houston men face decades in prison after a federal jury convicted them of giving false identities to undocumented garbage workers.
     A jury on Friday convicted Rudy Alexander Martinez, 36 and Israel Arquimides Martinez, 44, of all 18 charges against them, after a two-week trial and six hours of deliberation. Both from El Salvador, the Martinezes are not related.
     They could be sentenced to more than 50 years in federal prison and fined up to $500,000 at their July 29 sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     A grand jury issued a 13-count indictment against them in May 2014 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided a Waste Management garbage truck yard in northwest Houston. A superseding indictment added five charges.
     ICE arrested 16 undocumented immigrants in the April 24, 2012 raid at the yard, run at the time by Associated Marine & Industrial Staffing dba AMI Staffing, which had a $20 million contract with Waste Management.
     Israel Martinez drove a Waste Management garbage truck and was in charge of helpers who rode on the back of the truck and collected the garbage, according to trial testimony.
     Rudy Martinez started out as a driver and was promoted to schedule manager.
     Though Waste Management and AMI Staffing were identified as the companies involved during the trial, charging documents identify them only as “Company 1” and “Company 2.” Prosecutors also withheld Waste Management’s identity in a news release announcing the verdict, calling it a “waste disposal company.”
     Waste Management is one of the nation’s biggest trash collecting companies. A spokeswoman said it cooperated with the investigation and tightened its employment practices after the raid.
     The Martinezes and three others were charged with harboring illegal aliens, aggravated identity theft, conspiring to employ and employing 10 or more illegal aliens, and inducing undocumented aliens to come to and stay in the United States.
     The other defendants pleaded guilty; two of them testified against the Martinezes.
     Prosecutors presented evidence that after an audit revealed some workers had phony papers and AMI Staffing fired them in January 2012, the Martinezes told them to come back with false identities and bogus Social Security numbers.
     Former AMI Staffing manager Mary Flores testified that she hired workers who returned with “good papers.” Flores said she and the Martinezes gave the identities of former employees or applicants to undocumented workers.
     She said she became overwhelmed as she struggled to keep track of what face was using what name for a particular week. She took to jotting down lists of workers’ real names next to their fake identities, and shredding the lists at week’s end.
     Upon issuance of the verdict Friday, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon had Israel and Rudy Martinez arrested.

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