Former Howard's personnel director pleads guilty to conspiracy - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Former Howard's personnel director pleads guilty to conspiracy

HATTIEBURG, MS (WDAM) - The former personnel director of Howard Industries has pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Jose Humberto Gonzalez appeared before Judge Keith Starrett in federal court in Hattiesburg Wednesday for a change of plea hearing after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty to count one of conspiracy from an original 12-count indictment. The other counts, including identity theft and fraud were not part of the plea deal.

After court, defense attorney Matthew Carter released a statement, saying in part "Mister Gonzalez accepts responsibility for his actions. Mr. Gonzalez and his counsel would like to comment, however, the rules prohibit him from doing so at this time since the case is not concluded."

Company leaders at Howard Industries said Gonzalez resigned Monday, effective immediately and also released a statement about the plea stating, "The company was surprised and saddened by these announcements. The company has always had a strict policy to hire only U.S. citizens or those who have legal authorization to work in the United States."

Gonzalez originally pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and identity theft.

Both counts are related to the federal immigration raid on Howard Industries in 2008 which rounded up nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants - the largest raid in the nation's history.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez hired illegal immigrants and instructed others to obtain fake documents.

Copyright 2009 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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