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On May 29, 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the unsealing of a 20-count indictment against GPX/GPX, USA, a Texas-based seismic surveying company, and its field operations supervisor, Douglas C. Wiggill. The indictment charges the company and Wiggill with conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens, as well as the commission of these offenses, for failing to complete Forms I-9 and verify the immigration status of 19 illegal aliens hired to work on a seismic surveying project in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

According to the indictment, GPX executed a contractor compliance agreement certifying that its workers were legally authorized to work in the United States despite failing to verify the employment eligibility of the illegal aliens cited in this case, which was jointly investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Williamsport Bureau of Police in Pennsylvania.

Although the 19 employees referenced in the indictment were arrested in June 2011, Wiggill was taken into custody on the day of the indictment’s unsealing. If convicted of all 20 counts, he faces a maximum aggregate sentence of 100 years in prison, a supervised release term of 60 years, a $5 million fine, and a special assessment of $2,000. In addition, GPX stands to receive a total maximum fine of $10 million, a five-year probation term on each count, and a special assessment totaling $8,000.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff‡ Laura Foote Reiff‡

Laura Foote Reiff is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies,

Laura Foote Reiff is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies, as well as related employment compliance and legislative issues.

Laura advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 eligibility employment verification matters. Laura has been involved in audits and internal investigations and has successfully minimized monetary exposure as well as civil and criminal liabilities on behalf of her clients. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies. Laura performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Laura represents many businesses in creating, managing and using “Regional Centers” that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment. She coordinates this work with attorneys practicing in securities law compliance, with economists identifying “targeted employment areas” and projecting indirect job creation, and with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings. She also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Laura’s practice also consists of managing business immigration matters and providing immigration counsel to address the visa and work authorization needs of U.S. and global personnel including professionals, managers and executives, treaty investors/ traders, essential workers, persons of extraordinary ability, corporate trainees, and students. She is an immigration policy advocacy expert and works on immigration reform policies.