A federal judge fined a Duvall organic herb farm $1 million on May 1 after three company officials pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the firing, then rehiring, of illegal immigrants.
A Seattle Times report stated Duvall-based HerbCo International was fined under a plea deal by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The Times reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used witness accounts from some of the illegal workers who were given temporary work permits while the government made its case against the company.
HerbCo’s 150-acre operation in the Snoqualmie Valley includes growing and packaging of the product. Annual sales, which include income from affiliates in five states, top $2 million. The fine will be paid over the course of five years.
Court documents indicated that ICE audited the company in 2011 after they received an anonymous tip that said illegal workers were employed there. After the audit, documents say, HerbCo officials laid off the illegals, but when production was affected, some were rehired, where they worked at night and were paid in cash. Authorities were then told of the scheme by an HerbCo employee.