OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A federal jury has convicted a Hayward construction company owner of recruiting workers to illegally come to the Bay Area from Mexico and then forcing them to work for little pay and under threats of violence to them and their families.
United States Attorney David L. Anderson said Job Torres Hernandez, who also known as Joe Torres, faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 for harboring undocumented immigrants. He also faces another 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the forced labor violations.READ MORE: Recall Campaign Against Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch Gets Enough Signatures To Qualify For Special Election
District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White set sentencing for June 25 and ordered Torres to be held in jail up to his court date.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence at trial that since at least May 2015, Torres’ construction companies employed workers to whom he paid little to nothing for their work.
He recruited workers from Mexico to work for his construction companies and then refused to pay them the wages they had earned. Further, Torres knew the workers had come to, entered, and remained in the United States in violation of the law.READ MORE: UPDATE: Newsom Says California Likely To Keep Some Mask Mandates After June 15
Once here, Torres kept the workers in squalid conditions and shielded them from detection while making them work as long as 24 consecutive hours at a time.
With the assistance of an interpreter, many of Torres’ victims emotionally testified at trial about the horrific conditions they endured. They told the court that he paid them far less than what he had promised to pay them, and when they complained, Torres threatened them or their family members.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Torres warned his victims that if they reported him, then he would harm them physically, have associates in Mexico harm their family, and have them deported.
The evidence also demonstrated that Torres told his victims that if they went to police or filed suit against him, no one would believe them.MORE NEWS: San Jose Ordinance Could Set Hefty Fines For Fireworks
In addition, Torres housed dozens of workers on makeshift beds in a commercial warehouse in Hayward and other properties including a garage. The workers had limited access to toilets and showers, and at times, the properties were locked, preventing the workers from leaving.