An O’Neill tomato greenhouse operation agreed last Wednesday to pay a $400,000 fine as part of a deal to plead guilty to conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants.
U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly also announced that an Atkinson car salesman who was arrested after an August 2018 raid of businesses in the O’Neill area has agreed to plead guilty.
John Good, who was listed as the owner of an O’Neill restaurant, La Herradura, agreed to enter a guilty plea to aiding and abetting the employment of undocumented workers. He was facing a second trial after his initial trial last year ended in a mistrial.
Good was charged for his role in helping Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado, who operated the restaurant and arranged to provide undocumented workers for the greenhouse, a feedlot and other businesses in the area.
The tomato greenhouse, O’Neill Ventures, had faced a possible fine of up to $500,000. Good could receive a sentence of up to six months in federal prison, a fine of $3,000 per undocumented worker and up to one year of supervised release after being released from prison.
A sentencing hearing for the company and Good was set for May 29.
The raid in the O’Neill area was called one of the largest ever conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More than 130 workers were detained and 17 people arrested in connection with the illegal employment service run by Sanchez-Delgado, who took a cut of the workers’ paychecks and failed to pay taxes.
Other businesses raided at the time were: Christensen Farms with numerous locations in Appleton, MN, Sleepy Eye, MN and Atkinson; Elkhorn River Farms in O’Neill; O’Neill Ventures in O’Neill; La Herradura Restaurant in O’Neill; El Mercadito (grocery store) in O’Neill; A private ranch in O’Neill; La Herradura Restaurant in Stromsburg; GJW LLC with three locations in Ainsworth; J.E. Meurets Grain Company in Ainsworth; Herd Co. Cattle Company in Bartlett; and Long Pine (farm) in Royal.
U.S. District Judge John Gerrard called Sanchez-Delgado’s financial exploitation of the workers among the “most egregious financial crimes” he’d ever seen. Sanchez-Delgado was given the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.