Benton County farmer pleads guilty to hiring illegal aliens - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Benton County farmer pleads guilty to hiring illegal aliens

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- A Benton County dairy farmer pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to employing illegal aliens.

Kenneth Birker, 62, was convicted of one count of engaging in a pattern or practice of knowingly employing illegal aliens.  Birker also pleaded guilty to one count of harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or financial gain on behalf of his business, Birker, Incorporated.

In his plea agreement, Birker admitted that in November 2001, as president of Birker, Inc., he hired a husband and wife who were illegal aliens.  He also admitted that in May 2004, he hired a third illegal alien who was a relative to the couple.

According to court documents, Birker learned during their employment that the husband and wife had illegally entered the United States from Mexico and were undocumented. He also learned the three employees did not have drivers' licence's and they were rejected by Birker, Inc.'s health insurance provider because their identities could not be confirmed.  Birker then met with an immigration attorney that couple hired in late 2004, and agreed that Birker, Inc. would help the couple obtain legal status.

Birker is free on bond awaiting sentencing.  He faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison or five years probation and a $3,000 fine per alien.  Birker, Inc, faces a maximum sentence of one to five years probation and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the gross gain resulting from the offense.

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