Sentencing postponed in Miss. immigration raid

Published 2:01 pm Friday, October 29, 2010

A federal judge postpones sentencing until Jan. 6 for a Howard Industries executive who pleaded guilty to conspiracy after the nation’s largest workplace raid on illegal immigrants.

Former personnel director Jose Humberto Gonzalez was the only executive charged after the August 2008 raid on the electrical transformer factory in Laurel, where more than 600 workers were arrested.

Sentencing had been scheduled Thursday. District Judge Keith Starrett did not give a reason for his order Wednesday to resent the date.

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Gonzalez pleaded guilty Dec. 9, 2009 to conspiracy, admitting that he knowingly hired illegal immigrants at the plant. He faces up to five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gaines H. Cleveland filed two sealed motions Oct. 8, and had also filed two sealed motions before Starrett postponed an August sentencing date.

Two of Gonzalez’s attorneys have not responded to questions from The Associated Press about the delays, and whether he is now cooperating with federal authorities.

Howard Industries is one of Mississippi’s most successful businesses. After federal authorities searched their offices, several illegal workers were convicted of identity theft. Hundreds were deported.