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U.S. Attorney's Office seeks 'largest immigration forfeiture in the country' in case of Evans construction business

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 6:58 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 9:57 AM
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office has staked its claim on what it’s calling the “largest immigration forfeiture in the country.”



Federal prosecutors are seeking the property of Hugo and Blanca Diaz, who pleaded guilty in federal court last week in exchange for prosecutors dropping most of the charges on an indictment from November that accuses them of harboring illegal immigrants and employing them in their Evans-based construction businesses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stewart said a significant part of the couple’s punishment is the government seizing their property, including a $1.7 million home on Grace Avenue in Evans and nine vehicles with an estimated value greater than $150,000.

Stewart called it the “largest immigration forfeiture in the country” during Blanca Diaz’s sentencing. The couple face deportation to their native Mexico.

The U.S. government isn’t the only one interested in the property, however.

An Augusta attorney has filed an involuntary bankruptcy claim against Hugo Diaz on behalf of three businesses who say Diaz still owes them money for construction supplies. Collectively, the claims add up to $121,570, but attorney Louis Saul said there are other businesses in the area who still haven’t been paid and likely won’t be for several years. Saul said it adds up to big problems for small businesses.

“If you take $80,000 out of your cash flow, then you’re taking a hit,” he said.

Saul turned up in court last week before Hugo Diaz pleaded guilty to contest the criminal proceedings before the bankruptcy issues were cleared. He claims case law supports his position, but U.S. District Judge Randal Hall proceeded with the hearing after listening to Saul’s argument.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s motion to proceed with forfeiture also says the criminal proceedings hold precedence, citing its own case law that “not only exempts criminal forfeiture proceedings from the automatic bankruptcy stay” but also “‘affirmatively bars interference’ with a criminal case by non-parties.”

In an interview, Saul remained confident that his “ace trumps their king or queen.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Durham said Tuesday that anyone with a claim to the properties can file the appropriate paperwork in court. But the outstanding debts are not part of the forfeiture proceedings, Durham said.

Durham declined to comment on whether the U.S. government would pursue any assets sent to Mexico.

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copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/21/12 - 07:27 pm
0
0
These folks that did business

These folks that did business with him should just cut their losses and be glad they're not being prosecuted. They should lose any and all business licenses.

dichotomy
36325
Points
dichotomy 02/21/12 - 08:20 pm
0
0
I do not think suppliers are

I do not think suppliers are responsible to know if a customer has illegals working for him. If these are legitimate claims I believe they should be paid before the government gobbles up the rest and squanders it. Maybe I am missing something here but it looks to me like the innocent suppliers are victims of a government crime. It also looks like the US Attorney is trying to make a name for himself. There have been companies with hundreds of illegals working for them that didn't suffer property seizure.

So somebody explain where I am going wrong here.

Riverman1
90787
Points
Riverman1 02/21/12 - 08:25 pm
0
0
I'd like to check the papers

I'd like to check the papers of those who keep the grounds around county facilities, including the courthouse.

reba530
65
Points
reba530 02/21/12 - 09:17 pm
0
0
So when the money is
Unpublished

So when the money is recovered from this property may I ask if anyone knows where its going???

REDRIDER
134
Points
REDRIDER 02/22/12 - 07:17 am
0
0
Hey just deport them. That's

Hey just deport them. That's whats wrong with this country. They commit a crime and they send them back. They will be in business in a month some were else in the US.

itsanotherday1
47030
Points
itsanotherday1 02/22/12 - 10:07 am
0
0
Do you have any links or

Do you have any links or facts to back that up? If not, you should consider being a little more careful about publicly naming businesses and accusing them of illegal activities.

Riverman1
90787
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 10:11 am
0
0
I'm not necessarily agreeing

I'm not necessarily agreeing with Soapy's comment, but I'll bet none of the companies he named will confront him over it.

itsanotherday1
47030
Points
itsanotherday1 02/22/12 - 12:20 pm
0
0
I doubt they will either

I doubt they will either River, but I was throwing out an opinion for him to avoid what eventually happened- his post was pulled.

It is always out of bounds on the AC, as far as I can tell, to make unsupported negative comments about people, businesses, etc.

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 02/22/12 - 02:33 pm
0
0
So, what is the law regarding

So, what is the law regarding immigration? Recently we read that illegals were returning to Alabama after a federal court reversed a new Alabama law that called for expulsion of illegals.

treetopyoung
3
Points
treetopyoung 02/22/12 - 05:40 pm
0
0
alot of the workers lived in

alot of the workers lived in my neighborhood. I remember seeing the DE LA FUNTES trucks everywhere...don't see them AT ALL now...I am so glad in a way...they use to wake me up at like 5 am blowing the horn picking all the workers. If they would have done it legally they would have been ok.

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