- Associated Press - Thursday, March 19, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Lawrence contractor and five other people have been indicted in a $13 million scheme to unlawfully pay drywall workers who are in the country illegally, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Thursday.

Named in the 31-count indictment are Keith L. Countess, 55; Luis Felipe Guerrero-Guerrero, 26; Jose Felipe Hernandez-Calvillo, 39; Mauro Papalotzi, 34; Marcos Lane Stubbs, 44; Isaac Gallegos, 35. Jim Cross, a spokesman for Grissom, said the defendants didn’t immediately have attorneys.

“Employers who are knowingly hiring undocumented workers are a big reason for our nation’s struggle with unlawful immigration,” Grissom said at a news conference. “Put simply, nobody is hiring; nobody is coming.”

Grissom said that Countess, who owns Plaster Masters, funneled money through Jose Torress-Garcia. The 51-year-old Torress-Garcia, who is awaiting sentencing on unrelated charges of harboring undocumented workers and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, obtained insurance for a shell drywall business, the indictment said.

But Grissom said the sole role of Torress-Garcia was to deposit checks into his own accounts and withdraw cash to pay crew managers, including Guerrero-Guerrero, Hernandez-Calvillo and Papalotzi.

Grissom said Stubbs and Gallegos devised the scheme. Gallegos also operated a Boost Mobile telephone store in Olathe, and is accused of allowing Torres to use the store as a base of operations. Torress took a 5 percent cut that he shared with Gallegos and Stubbs, the indictment said.

Grissom said the investigation into the scheme is ongoing.

The two most serious charges in the indictment are money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and fine of up to $500,000, and bank fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

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