By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



O’Neill Ventures, Inc., a tomato greenhouse and packing plant in O’Neill, Nebraska, entered a felony guilty plea in federal court to conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens. Additionally, John Charles Good, car salesman and owner of the La Herradura restaurant in O’Neill, entered a guilty plea Wednesday for aiding and abetting Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado, an undocumented worker, who acted as ringleader of the harboring scheme, in his conspiracy to unlawfully employ and harbor undocumented workers since 2014.

Good faces a possible penalty of up to six months of incarceration, a fine of $3,000 per undocumented worker, and supervised release for up to one year after the term of incarceration. The plea agreement for O’Neill Ventures requires the company to pay a fine of $400,000, allow Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to conduct inspections of their labor practices and hiring processes during a probationary term as outlined in the agreement.

The conspiracy relates to the earlier prosecution of Sanchez-Delgado, who was sentenced in 2019 to 10 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy. At Sanchez-Delgado’s sentencing hearing on November 27, 2019, Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard described Sanchez-Delgado’s financial exploitation of the workers at the tomato plant and other agricultural work sites as one of the “most egregious financial crimes,” that the judge had ever seen.

The case began on August 8, 2018, when ICE agents executed a search warrant at O’Neill Ventures, Inc., and found undocumented workers comprised approximately 70% of the company’s work force on that date.

This is just another instance of ICE cracking down on employers and their owners for knowingly employing undocumented workers as well as other related offenses.

If you are concerned about your company’s immigration compliance, including possible employment of undocumented workers, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379