Nebraska Tomato Plant Pleads Guilty in Immigration Case

LINCOLN, NEB. (AP): A northern Nebraska tomato-growing and packing plant accused of hiring people living in the country illegally has pleaded guilty, as has the owner of an area restaurant accused of supplying illegal workers.

The office of U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly said in a news release that O’Neill Ventures pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to harboring undocumented workers. A plea agreement requires the company to pay a $400,000 fine and to allow Homeland Security inspectors to review the company’s hiring practices.

Prosecutors say O’Neill Ventures used false names for the workers to hide their identities from enforcement officials and failed to verify the employees could legally work in the U.S. The case was filed last year, months after agents in 2018 raided businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota that officials say knowingly hired immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally.

The general manager of O’Neill Ventures, who was also charged in federal court last year in the case, is expected to change his plea to guilty in a hearing set for March 5, according to court documents.

Also on Wednesday, John Charles Good, owner of the La Herradura restaurant in O’Neill, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the practice of unlawfully employing undocumented workers. He faces up to six months in prison when he’s sentenced May 29.

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