An Evans-based contractor was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison Tuesday for harboring illegal immigrants and employing them in his construction business.
Hugo Diaz will get credit for the six months he has served and will be recommended for deportation to his native Mexico after his release early next year.
Diaz’s attorney, Brian McEvoy, requested a departure from the sentence guidelines, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office had no objection to a sentence at the lower end of the recommended 12-18 months’ confinement.
U.S. District Judge Randal Hall, however, said that a reduced term wouldn’t convey the seriousness of the charge.
“This is a practice that cannot be tolerated,” Hall said.
Tuesday’s sentencing caps a case that started in November when federal and local law enforcement officers swarmed the home Diaz shared with his wife, Blanca.
An indictment charged the couple with harboring aliens, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Diaz and his wife pleaded guilty in February in exchange for the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s dropping all but one charge. Blanca Diaz was sentenced a few days later, received credit for time served and was deported.
At the sentence hearing Tuesday, neighbors and business partners praised Diaz as a “good man” and a loving father and husband. They said he was living the American dream by starting a business from scratch after coming to the United States illegally in 2004.
Diaz apologized and accepted full responsibility for his actions.
“America is a great country, it really is,” Diaz said. “I will keep it in my heart for the rest of my life.”