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OMAHA (AP) -- The chief executive of a construction company that employed illegal immigrants, including some who worked on Omaha's federal building, has pleaded guilty in his case and that of his company's.

Randy Tufly was sentenced Thursday in federal court to three years of probation and 150 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of continuing to employ an illegal immigrant.

Tufly is chief executive and owner of Tufly Co., which includes several limited-liability corporations.

Also Thursday, one of those corporations, Tufly Commercial, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of harboring illegal immigrants.

A judge sentenced the company to pay a $150,000 fine and serve a three-year term of probation. It also must retain someone approved by the U.S. probation office to ensure compliance with immigration and labor laws.

The guilty plea also could bar the company from federal contracts.

Tufly's attorney, Matt Heffron, called Thursday's sentencing the culmination of a two-year federal investigation of the drywall company.

The renovation of Omaha's Zorinsky Federal Building was a U.S. Department of Defense project, so workers were required to undergo background checks and wear badges for security clearance. The General Services Administration received complaints from other contractors that Tufly was using non-English-speaking employees who had not been through a security check, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Federal officials began an investigation that included a visit to Tufly's offices in June 2007. Investigators said 24 of 135 employees had invalid Social Security numbers or numbers that didn't match with their names.

In February 2008, three people who worked in management and were responsible for supplying workers to Tufly Drywall, including for drywall work done during a renovation of the federal building, were indicted. The indictment alleged Richard Ridpath, John Jantzon and Agustin Rios knowingly hired illegal immigrants and encouraged them to live in the United States.

All three struck plea agreements, according to court documents.

In January, Jantzon was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Sentencing for Ridpath and Rios is set for Monday.

Tufly was personally charged in just one case. Prosecutors said he employed Gabriel Rios, a Mexican citizen who was hired around March 2007 and worked for the firm until the federal investigation got under way.

Rios worked on several jobs, including the renovation project, according to court documents.

Heffron said that when Tufly learned Rios wasn't authorized to work, Tufly was working in Montana but directed his managers in Omaha to fire Rios.

Tufly's mistake was that he didn't follow up to ensure that Rios was fired, Heffron said, reiterating what Tufly told the court.


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