Company to Pay Record $95 Million in Fines


A federal judge ordered Asplundh Tree Expert Company of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania to pay an $80 million forfeiture money judgment after it pled guilty yesterday to unlawfully employing foreign workers. The company must also pay $15 million in civil penalties. The total $95 million in fines is the largest amount ever imposed upon a company in an immigration case.

A six-year Homeland Security Investigations ("HIS") audit revealed that the company decentralized its hiring practices to allow its highest levels of management to remain "willfully blind" as second and third level supervisors hired and rehired employees known to be ineligible to work in the United States. Hiring occurred through word of mouth referrals instead of a systematic application process. According to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") statement, this decentralized hiring model "tacitly perpetuated" fraudulent hiring practices, such as accepting identification documents known to be fraudulent, which increased the company's productivity and profit, thus incentivizing supervisors to ignore immigration laws. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said the record fine was a "strong, clear message" to employers to not illegally employ foreign workers.