S. Carolina farming operation pleads guilty to employing undocumented immigrants

A Lexington County, South Carolina, farming operation has pleaded guilty to employing 300-350 undocumented immigrants at its farms. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles, District of South Carolina, announced Friday that the operation has been sentenced to a $1 million and four years of intensive supervision.

The HW Group, LLC, entered a guilty plea to a pattern and practice of employing illegal aliens, a violation of Title 8, United States Code 134a at a hearing presided by Sr. U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr.

According to a release from the District of South Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office, evidence that was presented at the hearing established that the HW Group is one of multiple-related entities that participate in major farming operations in Lexington County under the entity, WP Rawl and Sons. Investigators uncovered evidence that the farm had a pattern and practice of employing undocumented immigrants through the farm and its subcontractors.

Company records were analyzed and showed that employees had documentation that was often outdated, counterfeit or improper, according to the release. Additionally, it was found that some subcontractors had little or no documentation for workers on HW Group’s land.

The plea agreement between the government and the defendant included the fine and supervision by the United States Probation Office and the Department of Homeland Security.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations agents and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim May and Jay Richardson from the Columbia, South Carolina office.