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AccuImage: Iowa Coed Murder and Surge in ICE I 9 Audits Signify That Employers Need HR Documents in Order

The Molly Tibbetts murder broadcasts a grim prediction for U.S. business owners—not having their HR documents in impeccable order could result in legal violations or a public relations nightmare.

(Tampa Bay, FL) September 11, 2018—Illegal immigrant Cristhian Bahena Rivera presently sits in a jail cell awaiting trial for his self-confessed murder of University of Iowa student Molly Tibbetts. At the time of her death, Rivera had been employed by Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa. Craig Lang, co-owner of Yarrabee Farms, said that when Rivera applied for a job four years ago, he produced an Iowa state ID card and a Social Security card. It turned out that the Social Security number was fake.

AccuImage, an industry-leading document and information management firm, stresses the need for employers to have their HR documents in faultless order to prevent any forgeries or alterations that may lead to legal penalties or a public relations debacle. “With ICE I-9 inspections on the rise, business owners need to be prepared,” says Larry Bennett, AccuImage’s CEO. “Legal fines for improper HR documentation can be expensive, and such documentation issues can create a public relations catastrophe. Having HR documents in compliance with hiring laws and secured with digitized record management adds a safety net to help avoid such issues.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is cracking down on employers. From October, 2016, through September, 2017, I-9 employment records were checked at 1,716 worksites. Since October, 2017, employment record checks have risen exponentially. A total of 6,093 worksites have been checked in just the first nine months since the last number was tallied. This has led to an additional 675 criminal arrests of managers and supervisors, compared to just 172 such arrests in the 12 months prior.2

Hiring illegal immigrants can lead to serious penalties—including criminal and civil fines—as well as the loss of business licenses. Most fines are broken down as follows:

  • First offenders can be fined $250-$2,000 per illegal employee. For a second offense, the fine is $2,000-$5,000 per illegal employee.
  • Three or more offenses can cost an employer $3,000-$10,000 per illegal employee. A pattern of knowingly employing illegal immigrants can mean extra fines and up to six months in jail for an employer.3

According to the National Roofing Legal Resource Center, the law does not require an employer to be able to spot every fake document presented by a prospective employee. Businesses will not be punished for accidently accepting a fake ID if it seemed genuine at the time.4 Nevertheless, the distinction between a fake document and one that “seemed genuine at the time” may be open to interpretation by law enforcement officials.

“Paper HR documents can be subject to alteration or even forgery,” says Bennett. “A secure digitized record management system keeps the original employee documents under lock and key, decreasing the chance of tampering and maintaining the genuine integrity of records.”

Yarrabee Farms is a small family farming operation that dates to 1860 and has been owned for six generations by the Lang family, which is prominent in the community. After receiving dozens of disturbing phone calls and more than 100 hostile messages, Dane Lang said, “This is a scary situation.”1

About AccuImage

AccuImage, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., has been servicing corporate America since 1988 as a document processing firm specializing in helping clients with the storage and retrieval of paper documents and managing of information. It provides tailored, automated workflow solutions that include the digitizing, streamlining and automation of documents, invoice processing and accounting processes. Over the past 30 years, its document and information management services have been used by some of the world’s biggest brands across a multitude of industries, from education to health care to public utilities and more. For more information, visit https://accu-image.com.

  1. Mollie Tibbetts Murder Suspect “Was Not Who He Said He Was,” Employer Says. NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group. Web.
  2. Hveem, Colton. “ICE Is Cracking Down On Employers, Not Just Illegals.” The Hayride, 6 Aug. 2018,
  3. Tran, Jessica. “Penalties for Employers Hiring Illegal Immigrants | LegalMatch Law Library.” Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination | LegalMatch Law Library, 26 June 2018. Web.
  4. Staff Writer. “What to do When you Find Out an Employee Provided False Documents,” Advantage, The Confidence of Complete Compliance, i9advantage.com. 11 July 2014. http://i9advantage.com/i-9-e-verify-resources/news/form-i-9-compliance/what-do-when-you-find-out-employee-provided-false-documents/.

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