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Durham men sentenced for recruiting, employing illegal immigrants

Posted November 3, 2011

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— Two Durham men have been sentenced to federal prison for bringing immigrants illegally from Mexico for their home construction business, authorities said Thursday.

Juan Antonio Lopez-Ponce was sentenced Monday to 37 months in prison and a $45,000 fine, and Jose Alfredo Lopez-Ponce was sentenced to 26 months in prison and a $25,000 fine. They also agreed to forfeit a total of $250,000 to the government.

The brothers, who came into the U.S. illegally themselves in the 1980s but eventually gained citizenship, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to conceal, harbor and shield illegal aliens.

As the owners of J&A Framers Carpentry Inc., they managed about a dozen eight-person framing crews and expanded rapidly during the Triangle's housing boom during the 1990s and early 2000s. They notified people in their hometown that they needed workers and loaned people money to cover the cost of being smuggled into the U.S., authorities said. The brothers also rented rooms to the illegal workers.

Prosecutors alleged that the brothers issued fraudulent tax forms to each framing crew and paid paltry wages to the workers in order to cover their tracks and boost their profitability. The operation ran from 2004 until last December, authorities said.


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  • cantstandya Nov 4, 2011

    For the individual who commented as to being an inspector on many of home construction,knowing the code book and is one thing but recognizing quality work is another,since most inspectors only see a fraction and I mean a fraction of the overall job and many not having to see what it takes to get it there and the call backs that sometimes show up months later do to faulty and cheap construction practices resulting from that fast but cheap price needs to stay on a project from start to move in ready punch list and all,I'll take a good American sub framer over a Hispanic crew any day,and I myself was in the construction business and very successful for over forty years so yes I have seen it with both boots on the ground.

  • AtALost Nov 4, 2011

    "Have you ever been on a jobsite? Regarding avoiding these homes, even the highest quality homes are subcontracted out to mostly hispanic framing crews."

    My issue isn't with Hispanic crews, my issue is with cheap, untrained labor and footing the healthcare bill when these uninsured, under the table workers go to the emergency room, welfare office, etc.

    I have been on a jobsite. I've seen the "deer in the headlights" stare when you ask a question until the one English speaking worker shows up.

    A skilled laborer would get a VISA to come to the US. There are numerous horror stories on the web (HADD, etc.) of shoddy construction and I know of some victims personally. There's often one or two skilled workers who go behind the normal installers to fix the obvious errors. In the meantime, other skilled workers struggle to stay afloat because they are too expensive. Talented Americans deserve a better life for their families too.

  • mwjrla Nov 4, 2011

    These two brothers never should have been permitted to gain citizenship in the first place.

  • cantstandya Nov 4, 2011

    still 1." Your using the wrong flag there,I have nothing to lose,sitting quite well off myself did my time and enjoyiny the fruits of my labor,how ya doing.

  • amber Nov 4, 2011

    "It took us several years and several thousand dollars to do it legally... When you have to look at hundreds of illegals every single day knowing what you went through to get here LEGALLY? Makes you mad, you know?"

    No, actually what makes me mad is all the red tape you have to go through. First, only well-to-do foreigners can apply for visas, because aside from the application costs, you must prove that you have assets in your country of origin. (Eligible upper class foreigners are not the ones that need a job in the U.S.) Then you wait for years to finally receive a decision and possibly be reunited with your family. These are not reasonable procedures for most people. This month, for example, visas will be distributed to citizens' children who were approved in Dec 1992; permanent residents' spouses from Dec 2008; and citizens' siblings waiting since April '96. Assuming you even have a family member here, that's a long wait. Mexicans are not eligible for visas from the annual lottery

  • KermitDFrog Nov 4, 2011

    Ask the farmers in Alabama how the new state law is working for them. Last I heard crops were rotting in the fields because no American would show up for more than two days.

    I don't like the idea of illegal immigrants but I have a ton of respect for people that will work hard for a dollar while we have so many "Americans" doing nothing but they get handouts from the government.

  • NiceNSmooth Nov 4, 2011

    ConAmor." Spoken like a true sympathitic American who has lost their backbone.

    cantstandya spoken like a entitled American that has to blame his short comings on someone else.

  • WooHoo2You Nov 4, 2011

    If anyone lost a job to them, it was because they did the job better, cheaper and faster.-Con Amor

    Sounds like 'free market' to me. No righties could hate that?

    ConAmor." Spoken like a true sympathitic American who has lost their backbone.-cantstandya

    Found one...

  • in-n-out burger rocks Nov 4, 2011

    At a Lost.......... These guys were framers and had nothing to do with electrical and/or mold problems. They framed the house and that's it. Carpenters do not frame a building. They are skilled craftsmen. I know this company and they were one of the best framing outfits in the area. BTW, most framing crews since the early 90's have been and still are hispanic. I have inspected residential and commercial buildings for years and can say this company did great work and that goes for all of the other hispanic framing crews out there. Have you ever been on a jobsite? Regarding avoiding these homes, even the highest quality homes are subcontracted out to mostly hispanic framing crews by the builder. You should do your homework before making comments on something you know nothing about.

    Unfortunately, many people don't see the complete effect of "Walmart" labor - cheap on the front end but eventually more expensive and damaging on the back end.
    November 4, 2011 11:03 a.m.

  • cantstandya Nov 4, 2011

    ConAmor." Spoken like a true sympathitic American who has lost their backbone.