Columbia, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that HW Group LLC,  a Lexington County Farming Operation, has entered a guilty plea to a pattern and practice of employing illegal aliens, a violation of Title 8,  United States Code § 1324a, and was sentenced to a one million dollar fine and 4 years of intensive supervision.  Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. of Columbia presided over the hearing.

Evidence presented at the hearing established that HW Group is one of several related entities that participate in major farming operations in Lexington County and is better known by a related entity, WP Rawl and Sons.  An investigation found that the farm had a pattern and practice of employing illegal aliens in their agriculture business.  This employment of illegal aliens was both directly by the farm and by the various subcontractors used.  An analysis of company records showed that employees had documentation which was often outdated, counterfeit, or improper. Moreover, some of the subcontractors that were used by the farm had little or no documentation for the workers performing services on HW Group’s land.  In total, the investigation found that the farm employed between 300-350 illegal aliens in its farming operations.

The Government and the corporate defendant entered into a plea agreement, whereby the corporation agreed to a one million dollar fine and four years of intensive supervision by the United States Probation Office and the Department of Homeland Security.

The United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated, “This plea and sentencing should serve as a notice to businesses that this District is focused on the demand side enforcement of immigration laws.  The law applies to businesses as it does to the individuals.”

The case was investigated by agents of the Homeland Security Investigations.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jim May and Jay Richardson of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.