U.S. District Judge Randal Hall ordered Diaz to be immediately turned over to immigration officials with a recommendation for deportation to her native Mexico.
Diaz and her husband, Hugo Diaz, were indicted on federal charges of harboring illegal immigrants, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the money they made using illegal immigrants as workers for their Evans-based construction businesses.
Hugo Diaz pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of harboring an illegal immigrant and will remain in federal custody until sentencing at a future date. He also faces deportation to Mexico.
Blanca Diaz did not plead guilty to any of the five counts against her on the indictment, but pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor information accusing her of entering the country illegally. That reduced her maximum sentence from 50 years to six months in prison. The indictment will remain open until the seven others who are listed resolve their charges of illegally entering the country.
Hall eventually accepted the plea bargain Wednesday but asked Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stewart to help him with some “questions and reservations.”
“I consider illegal entry very serious,” Hall said.
Stewart said Blanca Diaz shared the business bank accounts with her husband but did not play as large a role in the conspiracy as he did. Stewart added that the Diaz couple are also losing most of their property, including a $1.7 million home and several vehicles, to forfeiture.
“We went aggressively after as many assets as we could,” Stewart said.
Blanca Diaz said through her attorney, Carl Lietz, that she loved the United States and felt safe. But she’s ready to return to Mexico after nine years and has no plans to come back, Lietz said.