Construction firm convicted of forced labor from undocumented immigrants

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Construction firm convicted of forced labor from undocumented immigrants

PHOTO BY MAGNUS BLACK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY MAGNUS BLACK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY MAGNUS BLACK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Julia Cheever, BAY CITY NEWS SERVICE

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A Hayward construction company owner was convicted by a federal jury in Oakland of engaging in the forced labor of undocumented workers he recruited from Mexico.
Job Torres Hernandez, 38, was found guilty of one count of obtaining forced labor and a second count of harboring and concealing undocumented immigrants for financial gain.
He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on June 25 and could face up to 20 years in prison on the forced labor conviction and 10 years on the harboring conviction.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said evidence at the 10-day trial showed that Torres recruited workers from Mexico, paid them far less than what he promised, kept them in squalid conditions and threatened them or their family members if they complained.
The evidence showed that Torres housed dozens of workers in a warehouse in Hayward and other properties, with limited access to showers and toilets, and at times kept the properties locked, according to Simmons.
Simmons said witnesses testified that Torres told the workers that if they reported him to authorities, he would harm them physically, have associates in Mexico harm their families and have them deported.
After Torres was arrested and charged in August 2017, prosecutors said that seven people were recovered from the warehouse during a search.
Torres had been free on bail, but was ordered into custody by White immediately after the conviction.