Willow Grove company accused of hiring undocumented workers

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Executives from a well-known Montgomery County company are accused of purposely hiring dozens of undocumented workers and hiding it from the federal government. (WPVI)

Executives from a well-known Montgomery County company are accused of purposely hiring dozens of undocumented workers and hiding it from the federal government.

Asplundh Tree Experts, headquartered in Willow Grove, is one of the largest tree trimming companies in the country.

The company garners millions in contracts with electric and gas companies, as well as municipal, state and federal agencies across the region.

The federal grand jury focused on three officials working out of Asplundh's regional office in Horsham.

"Three supervisors who were in charge including one regional manager and two supervisors," Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Davidson told Action News Thursday night.

The indictment has charged regional manager Larry Gauger and two supervisors, Juan Rodriguez and Jude Solis.

The company says on its website that it partners with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies "to e-verify all newly hired employees." But according to the government, the accused tried to circumvent that system.

"What they were doing in that office was not just hiring illegal aliens, but when those illegal aliens were detected by Homeland Security through an audit, they were rehiring those employees," Davidson said.
After Homeland Security warned officials, going back as far as 2009, that as many as 100 employees were in the country illegally, some workers resigned and others were fired. Then, according to the indictment, they were rehired.

"They were rehiring those employees knowing that they were using bogus identifications," Davidson said.

The grand jury says Gauger, Solis, Rodriguez and others, known and unknown to the government, conspired to commit fraud by rehiring employees who had been dismissed for violations of federal immigration laws by using fake names and IDs.

"The same individual would be approaching that hiring representative of Asplundh and showing up being the same person, but merely providing different identification and a different name," Davidson said.

Multiple calls to Asplundh for comment were not returned.

The three face charges of conspiracy document and immigration fraud. If convicted they face up to ten years in a federal penitentiary.

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