Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Nearly $10 million more in bad news for Agriprocessors
The woes surrounding Agriprocessors deepened exponentially this morning on news that the State of Iowa is assessing nearly $10 million in civil penalties for wage law violations and that a former human resources worker pleaded guilty on immigration and identity theft-related charges.
“Once again, Agriprocessors has demonstrated a complete disregard for Iowa law,” Dave Neil, Iowa labor commissioner, said in a prepared statement this morning. “This continued course of violations is a black mark on Iowa’s business community.”
Agriprocessors management will have 30 days to file written notice that they contest the $9.98 million penalty assessment by the state. Included in the assessment are:
- $9,643,000 penalty for illegally deducting a charge for frocks ($100 per instance, 96,436 separate instances) — affecting 2,001 employees for a total of $192,597.36 in lost wages.
- $339,700 assessment for illegally deducting “sales tax/miscellaneous” costs 3,397 times — affecting 1,073 employees for a total of $72,189.09 in lost wages.
- $264,786.45 in back wages
Additionally, the state is charging that Agriprocessors failed to pay 42 employees their last paychecks on May 16 and May 23, following the massive immigration raid at the plant on May 12. Information released by the state indicates that “due to the overlapping nature of pay periods, seven individuals were shorted two paychecks.” The kosher meatpacker was assessed a $4,900 penalty for this violation.
Laura Althouse, 38 and a former human resources department worker at Agriprocessors, pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Court documents indicate that Althouse conspired with others to harbor undocumented workers at Agriprocessors in Postville, and that she did so for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Information from the court also showed that Althouse “possessed and used, without lawful authority,” a resident alien numer that was assigned to another person in committing the harboring offense.
Althouse currently remains free on bond, but her sentencing is pending. She faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a possible maximum of 12 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and 4 years of supervised release.
Another Agriprocessors human resources worker, Karina Freund, has pleaded not guilty to immigration-related charges and remains released on bond. Both women have been named, along with other members of plant management, in a criminal complaint alleging more than 9,000 violations of Iowa child labor laws.
Two former middle management supervisors at the plant have also pleaded guilty to other immigration-related charges.
The various state and national investigations into practices as Agriprocessors appear to be taking a toll on the plant. Sources in Postville told Iowa Independent that the beef line at the plant has been shut down for three days, and that the roughly 250 cattle being kept in a holding pen were loaded on to trucks this morning. A call directly to the Postville facility to confirm the report resulted in no comment. Out-of-state spokespersons have not immediately responded to Iowa Independent’s request.