- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Federal authorities arrested a construction company’s president and several employees yesterday on accusations they hired illegal workers and used lookouts to avoid immigration agents.

Eight workers were detained yesterday, and authorities said 30 others had been picked up previously in the investigation.

Scores of agents fanned out in Sierra Vista, a growing military community about 50 miles southeast of Tucson, in the raid on Sun Dry Wall & Stucco Inc.’s offices, a foreman’s home, the home of a suspected counterfeiter and eight work sites.

Company President Ivan Hardt, 44; the firm’s human resources manager, Carol Hill, 42; and four other employees were taken into custody on federal counts of conspiring to knowingly hire illegal aliens and harboring illegal workers, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Hardt and one of his foremen used two-way radios to communicate about the whereabouts of immigration agents, according to a criminal complaint submitted Thursday. They would relay the location of unmarked ICE vehicles to supervisors, who would move the undocumented workers to another site, prosecutors say.

If the illegals couldn’t be moved in time, the foremen would tell them to hide, investigators said.

“We have got a company that was knowingly hiring illegal aliens after they had been given adequate opportunity to adjust their hiring practices and they continued to blatantly disregard those laws,” said Alonzo Pena, the chief of investigations for ICE in Arizona.

Investigators say the company underreported its number of employees to federal inspectors. They also said some workers were found to have fraudulent work documents.

Immigration officials were processing the eight detained workers, all from Mexico. Three other persons were charged in state court with supplying workers with counterfeit work documents, officials said.

Messages left at the firm’s office were not returned yesterday and there was no answer at a home listing for Mr. Hardt.

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