A West Chester businessman and three others were charged by the U.S. attorney yesterday in connection with a scheme to shuttle undocumented workers through the immigration system to obtain temporary work visas.
Authorities said that Michael T. Glah, 48, of West Chester, owned and operated a temporary employment company, International Personnel Resources Inc. The firm recruited workers, mainly from Mexico, for their clients and then helped them obtain temporary work visas.
Also charged yesterday with conspiracy and visa fraud were Theresa M. Klish, 50, of West Chester; Emily V. Ford, 29, of West Chester; and Mary H. Gillin, 60, of Downingtown.
IPR provided seasonal workers for country clubs, golf courses, construction companies and landscaping companies throughout the U.S., the charging document said. (The feds cap the number of temporary work visas at 66,000 annually.)
The charging document said that between January 2003 and December 2008, IPR applied for far more temporary work visas than its clients needed in order to create its own personal "stockpile" of approved work visas.
But each visa must be assigned to a person identified on the visa petition.
Authorities said that Glah and his cohorts randomly selected names from a Mexico City phone book, fabricating personal information for the bogus visa petitions that they submitted to various government agencies.
If the visa petitions were rejected or if IPR's clients needed additional seasonal workers, they could obtain a visa and substitute the real worker for the fictitious worker named in the bogus petition.
U.S. Attorney Michael Levy said that the defendants' business plan was to "do an end run around the system for the purpose of making a profit."
IPR charged between $600 to $1,000 for supplying an undocumented worker, authorities said.
Levy said that the scheme made it possible for IPR's clients not only to keep undocumented workers on their payrolls, but also made the workers appear legitimate.
Glah brought approximately 433 undocumented workers to the U.S. in this manner for 69 clients between February and June 2005, but the total number over the six-year duration of the scheme was much higher, authorities said.
The charging documents stated that between 2003 and 2008 IPR submitted more than 1,600 bogus documents to the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State for temporary work visas.
As a result, the scheme made seasonal work visas unavailable for others and prevented U.S. businesses from being able to legitimately staff their companies throughout the visa program, authorities said.
The feds also want Glah and Klish to forfeit $1 million, which allegedly constitutes proceeds obtained from their alleged crimes.
Glah's attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday.