JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The owner of a Ridgeland business, who admitted to harboring illegal immigrants, is headed to prison.
Fifty-eight-year-old Paul Love was sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He must also pay a $4,000 fine.
His wife, Barbara Love, was ordered to serve 30 days house arrest on Aug. 9, along with three years probation. She was also ordered to pay more than $15,000 in fines.
The Loves, who own Love Irrigation in Ridgeland, pleaded guilty under a plea agreement.
U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis says the couple employed, continued to employ and re-hired illegal immigrants from 2003 to 2010 after learning they were illegal.
In 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials visited Love Irrigation and instructed them on how to properly verify Social Security Numbers and use the E-Verify program. ICE then notified Love Irrigation that seven of its employees were illegal and had to be terminated, according to Davis.
The couple continued to employ the illegal immigrants. They also made efforts to hide the employees from detection, such as classifying the workers as "contract labor" and not reporting them to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The couple also started paying the workers in cash, Davis said.