Howard Industries manager charged with conspiracy

By: Mike McDaniel   BioEmail | Twitter

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A Howard Industries manager appeared before a federal judge Thursday on conspiracy and fraud charges.

Human Resources Manager Jose Humberto Gonzalez appeared before a federal magistrate judge in hattiesburg under a 25-count federal indictment. He was charged with conspiracy and employee verification fraud stemming from a massive raid on the Laurel company in August 2008.

In the raid, 595 illegal immigrants were taken into custody, nine of them were charged with federal identity fraud charges and later pleaded guilty.

Gonzalez allegedly helped illegal immigrants gain employment by certifying employment documents he knew were fake. Gonzalez also allegedly encouraged illegal aliens to live in the United States and attempted to conceal and harbor some of them.

The charges also allege Gonzalez would hire applicants even though the social security administration notified him the social security numbers provided were invalid.

Gonzalez was released on $2,500 bond and ordered not to leave the district.

An arraignment has not yet been set.

If convicted,he could face up to 5 years in prison for each count as well as a maximum fine of $250,000. He could also face 3 years post release supervision for each count.