ETX owner of oil & gas company in Bossier City pleads guilty to employing illegal aliens

Crime

A judge’s gavel is shown in a file photo. (Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — An East Texas man who was the owner and president of an oil and gas company in Bossier City pled guilt in court Thursday for employing illegal aliens and harboring them.

According to the United States District Attorney’s Office, 58-year-old Tim Icenhower of Marshall, Texas pled guilty to unlawful employment of aliens and harboring aliens in connection with his company, Icenhower Oil and Gas, Inc.

The district attorney’s office says the hearing was before United States District Judge Donald E. Walter. According to information presented in court, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Shreveport began receiving complaints in early 2016 that IOG was hiring undocumented individuals from Mexico.

In March 2016, during their investigation of IOG, DHS requested employment documents from IOG to verify employees’ legal status and visited the IOG facility in Bossier City, Louisiana. DHS agents met with an IOG human resources official to inspect the documents and assess IOG’s employment verification process. DHS agents provided IOG officials with a handbook for employers that discussed the rules and regulations for employing individuals in the United States and other information about a free online program offered by DHS to employers so they can verify the legal status of potential employees. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, On October 16, 2016, IOG officials issued a letter to DHS advising of the results of its internal investigation and audit. The letter identified 69 individuals that IOG terminated because they were “unauthorized.” The letter also identified 22 undocumented employees that IOG claimed it needed to retain because they were essential to fulfill certain pending contractual obligations. 

On January 27, 2017, DHS agents visited the IOG facility in Bossier City again and conducted another audit and found that IOG still had undocumented employees that were not authorized to work there. DHS agents issued a Warning Notice to IOG that they were still in violation and advised that there would be a follow-up audit in six months. 

DHS conducted a follow-up audit of IOG in June 2017 and identified at least 17 individuals who were still employed at IOG that had been identified in the October 2016 audit as undocumented and unauthorized employees. Neither Icenhower nor IOG terminated the employment of these individuals after learning that they were undocumented aliens. 

Icenhower faces a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, and his company, IOG, could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled for February 11, 2021. The Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell is prosecuting the case.

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