NV Illegal Immigration Case Ends in Guilty Pleas

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - Two executives and the corporation that owns 11 McDonald's restaurants in northern Nevada pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony immigration charges stemming from raids last fall.

Agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 56 people in Reno, Sparks and Fernley last September after serving 12
court-ordered search warrants at the restaurants and franchise offices in Reno.

At a federal court hearing Wednesday in Las Vegas, attorneys for Mack Associates Inc., which owns the restaurants, pleaded guilty on
behalf of the franchise to two felony counts, including conspiracy to encourage an alien's unlawful residence in the United States and aiding and abetting an alien to remain here, authorities said.

Authorities charged that Mack Associates' management employed people they knew were in the country illegally by furnishing them with names and Social Security numbers belonging to others.

Under a plea agreement, the franchise will pay $1 million in fines.

Luther Mack, owner of Mack Associates, was not charged, authorities said.

"This case should serve as a reminder to employers that knowingly hiring illegal aliens violates federal law," Nevada U.S. Attorney Gregory Brower said.

"Companies and their managers who engage in such conduct are on
notice that violations will be prosecuted and that the criminal penalties can be significant."

Mack Associates lawyer Robert Goldman issued a statement, saying
the company cooperated in the investigation and accepts responsibility.

Operation's director Joe Gillespie, 53, of Sparks, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting an alien.

Jimmy Moore, the franchise's former vice president, pleaded guilty to inducing an illegal alien to remain in the U.S.

Both face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines when sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Mahan, Brower said. Sentencing was set for October.

Anntoinette Richmond, 44, the corporation's controller, faces one misdemeanor count of continuing employment of an unauthorized alien, Brower said. Her court date in Reno has not been set.

Of the illegal immigrants arrested during the raids, federal authorities said about 30 were returned to their native countries. The others were provided documentation that allowed them to remain in the United States pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, authorities said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)