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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Sneaky Immigration Scheme Alleged in Nevada

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A contractor employed undocumented workers for years through a bogus "sponsorship" program that falsely promised workers U.S. citizenship in exchange for money, a former worker claims in Clark County Court.

Jose Martinez claims that NPL Construction Co. employed him and hundreds of other undocumented workers before Sept. 11, 2011, when the federal government cracked down on immigration laws.

To avoid detection, Martinez says, NPL and co-defendant Creative Concepts "came up with a plan to file false papers with the Department of Labor so that it appeared to any government official who might inquire that all of its workers were either legal or in the process of becoming legal."

"The scheme took advantage of the fact that the two-step process for obtaining a labor certification and then applying for a change in status with the Department of Justice was a lengthy process," according to the complaint. "After 9/11 the immigration process was so backed up that it often took many years for a final determination that the particular applicant was not qualified to adjust his status.

"The defendants knew its workers did not qualify. But the defendants also knew that it could avoid detection and keep the undocumented employees working in the interim. This was important to NPL because it did not feel that it could complete the many construction contracts it had at the time without these workers. But the defendants had a problem: How could they convince all of its undocumented workers to file paperwork with the government, knowing that when it was discovered that they were illegally in the country their chance of deportation would rise significantly? Furthermore, how could they convince the workers to pay thousands of dollars to attorneys for fees and costs associated with the filing, if the workers knew they did not qualify?

"To fix this problem, NPL and the other defendants lied to the workers and told them that because NPL was willing to 'sponsor' them, they either were or soon would be legal residents in the U.S. These statements were believed by the workers because NPL executives, regional supervisors, foremen and attorneys in the scheme assured them that it was true. Creative Concepts also brought in at least one attorney (who has now been disbarred) who issued each worker what the defendants described as an 'attorney ticket' - a letter to hand to authorities on attorney's letterhead stating that the worker was part of the NPL immigration program. The workers were so excited to hear of this amazing development that they gladly agreed to have money held out of each paycheck over a period of 5 years to pay for the process," according to the complaint.(Parentheses in complaint.)

Martinez says NPL deducted $20 per week from his paycheck, then kicked it up to $25 per week and told workers more money was needed.

Martinez says the NPL workers were fired in 2007, "which coincided with the time the first step was completed (obtaining a labor certification from the Department of Labor) and prior to the second step (actually applying for an adjustment of status with the Department of Justice)." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Martinez says NPL ran a similar, but smaller scheme Dallas and Last Vegas, and that "When the Las Vegas workers were fired they were mocked by the supervisor who fired them."

He claims: "Regional Supervisor Cavin Donnell stated: 'This immigration process will no longer continue, it was never going to happen. We [NPL] were only buying your time. I have a son to feed and I would prefer to feed him instead of your sons and daughters.'" (Brackets in complaint.)

Martinez says the victims in Dallas were not told about the scheme when they were fired.

Las Vegas workers sued in 2010, and discovery revealed spreadsheets and files of hundreds of names of employees and their family members who had been enrolled in the bogus immigration program, according to the complaint.

NPL describes itself as a full-service underground piping contractor that provides utility companies with trenching and installation, replacement and maintenance services for energy distribution systems.

Martinez says he was fired without explanation in 2007, still believing that paperwork was still "in process" and that Creative Concepts and its attorneys were representing him.

Named as defendants along with NPL and Creative Concepts are John Speidel, David Speidel, Elia Vallejo, Ricardo Pringle, Mike Kemper, Cavin Donnell, Earl Mahan and Paul Schelly.

Martinez seeks actual, punitive, treble and consequential damages, disgorgement and attorney's fees for contract, legal malpractice, negligence, fraudulent inducement, civil conspiracy, fraud

He is represented by Stanley Broome.

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