COURTESY FLICKR/SARAH LAVAL
A JeffCo landscape company owner ran a visa scam, federal authorities say.
The owner of a Jefferson County landscaping business acted like a broker for foreign labor, illegally leasing 74 workers to other companies.
William "Bill" Richardet, 64, of High Ridge pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. His company, Cardinal Lawn & Landscape, also pleaded to the same charge.
As part of the scheme, Richardet secured H2-B visas for seasonal laborers by making it look like they would all be working for his company, according to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Instead, he subcontracted them out to other businesses for a fee.
Cardinal Lawn and Landscape has been in business more than fifteen years, an offshoot of Richardet's family business Bi-State Landscape Supply.
The criminal investigation focus on five years — 2012 to 2017 — and was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and Department of Homeland Security with help from the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security.
Richardet, who is due to be sentenced in November, faces a maximum of fifteen years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Cardinal could be fined $500,000 and placed on probation for five years.
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