Columbia Farms settles with federal courts

Columbia Farms, charged with hiring hundreds of undocumented workers at their Greenville plant, has entered an agreement with the federal government. U.S. Attorney Walter Wilkins says Columbia Farms will pay $1.5 million dollars to the government to settle all criminal, civil or administrative claims that are pending or could be brought as a result of the investigation regarding the company’s alleged hiring of undocumented workers. The agreement was filed Tuesday in federal court, just before jury selection was scheduled to begin.
In the agreement, Columbia Farms will use the Department of Homeland Security’s “E-Verify” employment eligibility verification program, a Spanish language services for Spanish speaking job applicants, and an external auditor to conduct annual reviews of employment forms, among other actions.
Elaine Crump and Barry Cronic are facing federal charges related to the alleged hiring of undocumented workers at the Greenville plant, and will participate in a pretrial diversion program for one year. If they complete the program successfully, their criminal charges will be dismissed.
More than 300 workers were found to be in the United States illegally during the raid at the Greenville facility in October, 2008. The federal investigation into Columbia Farms’ hiring practices began in December 2007.
Columbia Farms operates eight poultry processing facilities in South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana.