By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

On September 12, 2018, James Brantley, owner of Southeastern Provision, pleaded guilty to tax fraud, wire fraud, and employment of undocumented workers. This guilty plea is a result of the raid conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI) on Brantley’s meat slaughterhouse in early April 2018. In so doing, Brantley agreed to pay$1,423,588 in restitution to the United States government.

Brantley faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for the tax counts. He also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the wire fraud charge. Finally, he faces up to six months in prison and a fine of not more than $3,000 per unauthorized alien on the employment of undocumented workers charge.

According to the plea agreement, beginning in 1988 and continuing through April 2018, Brantley knowingly hired, or caused others employed by him to hire, unauthorized workers to work at Southeastern Provision. The unauthorized workers were knowingly hired to reduce Brantley and Southeastern Provision’s FICA tax obligations, unemployment insurance premiums, unemployment tax obligations, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

“As ICE Homeland Security Investigations has stated repeatedly – this agency is equally focused in its worksite enforcement efforts on the foreign nationals who unlawfully seek employment as well as the employers who knowingly hire them. This case was a criminal investigation from day one, not simply an immigration enforcement action, and today’s guilty plea clearly illustrates HSI’s dual focus on the issue,” said ICE Homeland Security Investigations New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Jere T. Miles.

Just last week during a presentation to HR professionals, I was asked why only employees are punished by being deported and/or criminally charged with use of fraudulent IDs. This plea agreement demonstrates owners of companies, as well as other top management, face criminal prosecution in the same manner as undocumented workers.

If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at