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Couple face immigration, money laundering charges

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An alleged scheme that authorities say involved more than $400,000 earned by an Evans couple through the use of illegal immigrants brought the husband and wife before a federal judge Monday.

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Medina-Ramires  Special
Special
Medina-Ramires


Hugo Diaz and Blanca Miranda De Diaz are accused of harboring the immigrants, beginning around January 2008, “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain,” according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

The couple were arrested Friday night at their $1.7 million home in the 2000 block of Grace Avenue by a swarm of federal investigators serving a search warrant.

Also arrested Friday on a federal charge of entering the country illegally were Arturo Domiinquez-Suaste, Reyes Fredrico Lopez-Garcia, Jesus Vazquez-Trejo, Carlos Suarez Ortega, Rigoberto Loza-Marquez, Estaban Jarquin-Esteba, and Heris Francisco Medina-Ramires.

The indictment says the couple sheltered the immigrants, then used five SunTrust Bank accounts to spend the illegally gained money. Those accusations brought the couple one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 10 counts of money laundering against Hugo Diaz.

Authorities did not say whether the illegal immigrants worked for Hugo Diaz, who owns De La Fuente construction in Grovetown, according to the Better Business Bureau.

One transaction listed in the indictment includes a wire transfer to someone in Mexico with the last name Diaz De La Fuente.

Other transactions listed include a $173,380 over-the-counter withdrawal to an Augusta law firm handling a real estate transaction and a $50,000 over-the-counter withdrawal for a pool company.

The indictment includes a forfeiture list of property the U.S. government intends to seize as alleged gains from the conspiracy: the Grace Avenue property, two Augusta homes in the 2900 block of Ayles­bury Drive and 100 block of Clark Street, and several lots in the Green Acres subdivision on Metz Drive in North Augusta.

Ten vehicles, including a 2008 Lexus sedan, several pickups and a 15-passenger van, are also on the forfeiture list.

The defendants went before U.S. Mag­is­trate Leon Barfield, who explained through an interpreter their legal rights and the charges they faced.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty. They will remain in federal custody pending a case resolution. The Diazs face up to 10 years in prison for each count on the indictment.

The only charge against seven of the defendants is entering the United States illegally, which is considered a “petty” charge under U.S. law.

The only options for someone accused of a petty crime are a bench trial before a judge or a guilty plea. The maximum sentence is six months in prison.

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kiwiinamerica
963
Points
kiwiinamerica 11/07/11 - 02:36 pm
0
0
Uh-oh........a bunch of folks
Unpublished

Uh-oh........a bunch of folks in the CSRA aren't going to have their yards cleaned and lawns cut this week.

comet2u
28
Points
comet2u 11/07/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
That house and all the Big

That house and all the Big Boy Toys parked in the driveway all these past years always seemed a little conspicuous, even to the uninitiated.

jmckee226
0
Points
jmckee226 11/07/11 - 03:00 pm
0
0
it doesnt matter if your

it doesnt matter if your legit or not. if you have big boy toys in the driveway people automatically cast judgement on you that you are doing illegal things. so i dont think i got the memo when all you guys were put up on the pedstal as perfect allowing yall to cast judgement on everybody. now yall know good and well yalls comments are a cover up for all the trash your hiding in the closet.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 11/07/11 - 03:39 pm
0
0
I would guess it has been all

I would guess it has been all brought about from a case of big (business) envy by other contractors, who, when he failed to join with them in charging their absurdly high rates, had the government sicked on him, for whatever charges they could throw at him.

No, I have never done business with him.

tigerpaw80
0
Points
tigerpaw80 11/07/11 - 03:42 pm
0
0
@kiwi...most worked for Mr.

@kiwi...most worked for Mr. Diaz. @comet...This is a new house built within the last 12-18 months

withsoutherncharm
0
Points
withsoutherncharm 11/07/11 - 03:51 pm
0
0
TK3. Why wouldn't another

TK3. Why wouldn't another contractor turn him in?!!! Our jobs are going to illegal aliens that are not paying taxes. But we are paying for their health care and free food. I pay my taxes...why shouldn't they!

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 03:53 pm
0
0
TK3, you are kidding, right?

TK3, you are kidding, right? Blaming other contractors for Hugo's problems and saying charges are trumped up?

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 04:02 pm
0
0
Where is all of this

Where is all of this conversation about cheap labor coming from? Only the people who employ and house Mexican laborers have the opportunity to exploit them. The general contractors who hire sub contractors are paying the market rate for services. Hugo's attraction to many generals was due to his work ethic and that he provided many areas of skilled labor with one call and that's all...

TrulyWorried
16067
Points
TrulyWorried 11/07/11 - 04:10 pm
0
0
Would the construction

Would the construction business create such a large amount of income that the money had to be laundered? I will be interested to see what comes up next.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 04:23 pm
0
0
TW, doesn't seem likely, but

TW, doesn't seem likely, but you know, what is large to one, may be small to another.

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 11/07/11 - 04:36 pm
0
0
The amount of money made by

The amount of money made by Crown Communities over the last few years has really hurt other people's feelings. I've never seen anything similar in our area with the amount of growth in one neighborhood. Willhaven started Phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 in such a short time.

augusta citizen
9955
Points
augusta citizen 11/07/11 - 04:55 pm
0
0
It does't sound like envy if

It does't sound like envy if other contractors turned him in for breaking the law. I don't know if other contractor's were charging "absurdly high rates" or not, but if they were paying decent wages, matching FICA, unemployment taxes, worker's comp, etc. and Mr. Diaz wasn't, then of course their rates would be higher. No way they would be able to compete with someone like that.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 04:56 pm
0
0
The real hurt feelings will

The real hurt feelings will begin when Crown pulls up stakes and leaves town, no recourse. And Wait, til they get ready to resell that stuff...

augusta citizen
9955
Points
augusta citizen 11/07/11 - 04:56 pm
0
0
countyman, who is Crown

countyman, who is Crown Communities? Is that a company owned by Mr. Diaz too?

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 05:21 pm
0
0
No, Ac, they are from the

No, Ac, they are from the Atlanta area.

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 11/07/11 - 05:58 pm
0
0
Diaz probably "controlled"

Diaz probably "controlled" less than 30% of the Hispanic workers here..the rest are via Atlanta and a couple of other out of town builders who quickly realized that local officials were NOT going to do anything to enforce laws and were willing to look the other way. If in doubt...ride through some local subdivisions and look....yes even today after the big Friday bust. Allen Farms on Hereford Farm Rd. Is a good example.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/07/11 - 06:46 pm
0
0
I've worked in the

I've worked in the construction industry for over 10 years now. It became common knowledge acouple of years ago, within the industry that local companies were routinely being underbid by companies such as this that employed illegals. Never heard this guys name mentioned but what he seems to have been doing certainly fits the profile.
Scuttlebut was that, as previously said, the local authorities could have cared less and that these crews could build a house in a couple of weeks as opposed to a couple of months. Also the word was that the work was shoddy at best. If true, the old axiom applies....You get what you pay for. If I were a builder who used these guys, I'd be concerned about my reputation within the local community.

cgould
0
Points
cgould 11/07/11 - 07:12 pm
0
0
glad to see this all to

glad to see this all to finally come down on hugo,he has been hurting everyone in the construction industry,hope to see irs show up to collect payment to everyone who owed hugo money.anyone who done business with him knew he was doing all this work illegaly.lots of money when you are working 200-300 illegal aliens for $4 per hour is what you are paying them lol

bailmeout4
0
Points
bailmeout4 11/07/11 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Can't blame only Mr. Diaz,

Can't blame only Mr. Diaz, what about all the developers who used these out of town builders? If you think they didn't know, you're kidding yourself.

reba530
65
Points
reba530 11/07/11 - 07:34 pm
0
0
I know this family very well
Unpublished

I know this family very well and they are not bad people. In fact they are not doing anything no one else is doing. To bad they got caught by a jealous tattletale that knows how to run his business better than him.

Boudreaux
127
Points
Boudreaux 11/07/11 - 08:10 pm
0
0
Turns out Diaz and his wife

Turns out Diaz and his wife are illegals! How sad they could make it this far without anyone questioning their legallity.

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 11/07/11 - 08:53 pm
0
0
Boudreaux....where did you

Boudreaux....where did you get your info that Mr. & Mrs. Diaz are illegal?? How could that be? He has business licenses in Richmond and Columbia counties, worked at the Extreme Makeover house, owned a bar in Richmond County, owns multiple vehicles....and NO ONE caught it??

flip_it
0
Points
flip_it 11/07/11 - 08:54 pm
0
0
Read the file attachment of

Read the file attachment of the court documents filed in the case. It is amazing that it took them this long to take him down. He has multiple houses all over the CSRA that housed his illegal workers and has bought many more properties through other contractors as a cover up. If they truly knew how many homes he operates in the CSRA everyone would be shocked.

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 11/07/11 - 09:08 pm
0
0
Ok...flip and boud....where

Ok...flip and boud....where in the indictment does it state they (Mr. & Mrs.) are nit legal???? I've read all 19 charges twice and can't find it.

flip_it
0
Points
flip_it 11/07/11 - 09:17 pm
0
0
I was commenting on

I was commenting on attachment and what was actually up for forfeiture. Channel 26 news reported that they were illegal.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/07/11 - 09:45 pm
0
0
"I know this family very well

"I know this family very well and they are not bad people. In fact they are not doing anything no one else is doing. To bad they got caught by a jealous tattletale that knows how to run his business better than him."

Say what? Everybody does it? If they do have you turned in those breaking the law? If not, why not?

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 09:50 pm
0
0
bail, developers don't use

bail, developers don't use builders, they merely sell lots to them. Builders are general contractors who hire sub contractors who hire employees.
General's are not in a supervisory capacity over the employees, they have no idea what they are paid. The sub charges an agreed upon market rate, provides his federal i.d. number, and certificates of insurance. Subs pay their own employees and are responsibile for their withholdings and worker's compensation benefits. I guess some generals still hire some of their own employees and use subs too, but not many of them unless they are turning huge volumes like some of the Atlanta based builders. Smaller builders don't stay busy enough to have employees on the payroll. It's more cost effective to hire subs. The higher caliber of properties are constructed mostly by the local generals.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 11/07/11 - 09:55 pm
0
0
One more thing, if the goal

One more thing, if the goal is to remove the Mexican labor force in the CSRA, law enforcement should proceed with taking a good look at the employees of the Atlanta builders.

Cynical old woman
1111
Points
Cynical old woman 11/07/11 - 10:05 pm
0
0
Willow...you are correct. It

Willow...you are correct. It was business as usual in Atlanta builder neighborhoods. Are those guys legal? I think not!

And also a hard look at local building officials who allowed Diaz to operate in both Columbia and Richmond counties.

lyreco
0
Points
lyreco 11/07/11 - 10:16 pm
0
0
I will repeat that this case

I will repeat that this case is about discrimination...and envy. There are many American contractors in the CSRA that are presently sub-contracting with business that are owned by illegal aliens. How are we going to stop those American contractors who are subcontracting with illegals??? Any ideas???

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