Meridian Star

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January 10, 2013

3 sentenced in illegal hiring case

GULFPORT —

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Three people indicted for their roles in a scheme to hire illegal immigrants have been sentenced to probation on federal misdemeanor charges.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/ZKB0P3 ) restaurant owner Jose Gutierrez, 36, and business partner Juan Baraja, 58, each received three years' probation Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

The judge sentenced Evaristo Jimenez, 38, a former employee, to one year of probation.

Each was indicted on a conspiracy charge and 20 counts of harboring illegal immigrants.

They were indicted on felonies after raids shut down their restaurants in Picayune and Poplarville on Feb. 23. The charges were reduced to a misdemeanor after a fourth defendant was deported.

U.S. District Judge Walter J. Gex III also ordered a money judgment of $50,000 against the two and the forfeiture of $963 in cash and $21,061 seized from bank accounts during the government's investigation.

Prosecutors said the money judgment covers the value of property at El Mariachi — one of their restaurants in Picayune — and two homes in Picayune.

Their El Mariachi locations, including one in Poplarville, and El Vaguero Chido in Picayune, have reopened for business.

Attorney Peter Barrett, representing Barajas, called resolution of the case "a fair outcome. These people are valued members of the community and they contribute to the economy."

 

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