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Corruption Chronicles

Councilman Hires Dozens Of Illegal Immigrants

A Kentucky elected official who owns a large construction company has pleaded guilty to federal charges of using illegal immigrant labor over four years and will pay the government a $2 million fine.

The councilman (Jeffrey Wolnitzek) in the quiet city of Fort Wright, population of about 7,000, admitted to conspiracy to shield illegal workers for commercial advantage from around 2002 through 2006. He said that his Erlanger Kentucky-based company, Spectrum Interiors Inc., knowingly violated federal immigration laws in order to maintain a reliable work force.

Federal prosecutors set the fine at $2 million because they estimate that the company earned about that much off of the illegal immigrant labor. Councilman Wolnitzek could also go to prison for up to a decade and be forced to pay a quarter of a million dollars for each illegal immigrant his company employed.

A complaint, filed by federal prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Kentucky, charges Wolnitzek with conspiring to conceal, harbor and shield aliens from detection for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.

The violations were discovered late last year when federal agents detained about 30 illegal immigrants working for Spectrum Inc. on a major luxury condominium project in Covington. Federal authorities estimate that the illegal aliens also worked on other big construction projects, including a symphony hall, a major university and a hospital.


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