Texas donut company pleads guilty in immigration case

On Sept. 5, Shipley Do-Nut Flour and Supply Company Inc. pleaded guilty through its president, Lawrence Shipley III, to conspiring to harbor unauthorized immigrants. The Houston-based company agreed to pay a $1,334,000 forfeiture to the government, federal prosecutors said. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19. Shipley Do-Nut faces a maximum fine of $500,000 and up to five years probation. As part of the plea deal, the company also agreed to revise its immigration compliance program and implement new procedures to prevent future violations of immigration laws.

The company made its guilty plea before US District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. The case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Ryan D. McConnell, Southern District of Texas. Shipley Do-Nut Flour and Supply Company supplies baking materials and logistical support to retail stores and to 200 franchises in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Former Shipley Do-Nut warehouse manager Jimmy Rivera, current warehouse manager Julian Garcia and current warehouse supervisor Christopher Halsey pleaded guilty on Sept. 5 before US Magistrate Judge Stephen William Smith to misdemeanor charges of hiring or continuing to hire unauthorized immigrants. All three men were sentenced to six months probation. Halsey, Rivera and Garcia were fined $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000, respectively. Company president Lawrence Shipley III pleaded guilty Aug. 28 before the same court to continuing to hire unauthorized immigrants and was sentenced to a similar probationary term and fined $6,000.

The guilty pleas are the result of an ICE criminal investigation that began in January after an employment discrimination suit against Shipley Do-Nut ended. Transcripts and other documents from that case showed the company knew it was hiring unauthorized workers, said Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Houston. On April 16, ICE agents raided the company’s Houston headquarters and plant and arrested 27 workers, including some who lived in properties owned by Shipley Do-Nut. The $1.334 million forfeiture was equal to the value of those properties, Rutt said; the company agreed to pay the amount in lieu of forfeiting its interest in the properties. (AP, Sept. 5; ICE news release, Sept. 5)

From Immigration News Briefs, Oct. 5

See our last post on the politics of immigration.