A Pennsylvania-based company has agreed to pay $95 million in criminal fines for illegally employing undocumented immigrants. The judgment is the largest of its kind in U.S. history, federal prosecutors said.
Asplundh Tree Expert, based in Willow Grove and described by federal officials as one of the largest privately-held companies in the country, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Philadelphia, agreeing to an $80 million criminal forfeiture money judgment and a $15 million civil payment.
The scheme to unlawfully employ undocumented immigrants was perpetrated throughout the ranks of Asplundh from 2010 to December 2014, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
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Asplundh, a 90-year-old family owned business, specializes in ensuring utility lines are clear from tree branches. They employ more than 30,000 people in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
"The highest levels of Asplundh management remained willfully blind while lower level managers hired and rehired employees they knew to be ineligible to work in the United States," according to the statement.
Asplundh incentivized managers who skirted immigration law, federal prosecutors said.
Company Chairman and CEO Scott Asplundh said in a statement posted to its website about "the DOJ matter" that Asplundh was aware of the federal investigation since 2015.
He said the company took "immediate correction action."
"Consequently, the circumstances and practices of the past, which gave rise to the investigation, have been addressed and eliminated going forward," Asplundh said.
He apologized to customers and accepted "responsibility for the charges."
The company also agreed to present a compliance program to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The program included revising hiring procedures to verify each ID examination for every new hire and implementing a photo ID card system.