Landscaper operating in Howard may be fined $50,400 by INS

September 09, 1997|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

A Pennsylvania-based landscaping firm faces the possibility of a $50,400 fine from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, based mainly on what INS says was sloppy paperwork at the firm's Columbia branch.

An INS spokesman said yesterday the Columbia office of the Brickman Group failed to document the backgrounds of about 50 workers and paid one worker it knew was an illegal immigrant.

"We mean business with this stuff," John Shallman, a spokesman for INS' Baltimore office, said yesterday. "This is a big fine for a company."

INS told Brickman yesterday of its "intention to fine" action, based on a two-year investigation. INS had fined the company $5,000 in 1988, according to INS.

Brickman officials will have a chance to contest the INS findings and possibly have the fine reduced.

"Our client has a very diligent and aggressive program to ensure that it only hires people who are authorized to work in the U.S.," said William P. Cook, a Columbia attorney who represents Brickman and served as INS general counsel from 1989 to 1991. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with the immigration service to address their concerns."

The INS investigation started with a visit to a Brickman job site in Annapolis in August 1995. INS agents interviewed workers and eventually determined that Brickman officials knew one of the workers was an illegal immigrant -- yet continued to pay him.

That worker was detained and released on bond. His case is pending, Shallman said.

The INS also determined that Brickman didn't adequately fill out Employment Eligibility Forms for about 50 workers, Shallman said. He said the forms were either incomplete or late.

"Mostly, [the] violations are in the paperwork arena," he said.

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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