SAVANNAH -- An illegal alien has admitted to a scheme in which he and his co-conspirators fraudulently employed other illegals to work for a tree service, and then aided in the murder of a man who reported the scheme.
Pablo Rangel-Rubio, 53, a citizen of Mexico illegally present in the United States who resides in Rincon, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to an Information charging him with Conspiracy to Conceal, Harbor and Shield Illegal Aliens; Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering; three counts of Money Laundering; and one count of Aiding and Abetting the Retaliation Against a Witness, said David H. Estes, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The guilty plea subjects Rangel-Rubio to a negotiated sentence of 600 months in prison and forfeiture of a 26.62-acre residential compound in Rincon.
“Pablo Rangel-Rubio was responsible for employing at least 100 illegal aliens to work for a tree service, skimming from their paychecks to further fatten his wallet, and then helping arrange the murder of a man who exposed the scheme,” said Estes. “The substantial prison sentence from this plea will hold him accountable for those crimes.”
Rangel-Rubio originally was named in a December 2018 indictment along with his brother, Juan Rangel-Rubio, 45, of Rincon, and Higinio Perez-Bravo, 52, of Savannah, spelling out a conspiracy that employed illegal aliens using assumed identities to work for a tree service, and then retaliated against a legal-citizen employee who reported the scheme.
Juan Rangel-Rubio and Higinio Perez-Bravo are awaiting trial and are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
As described in court documents and testimony, Pablo Rangel-Rubio was responsible for hiring employees to work in a subsidiary of a tree service despite his status as an illegal alien. Most of the employees he hired on behalf of the company were illegal aliens, and Rangel-Rubio provided them with the names and social security numbers of others and then concealed their unlawful status and ineligibility to work in the United States. Rangel-Rubio further shielded their unlawful status by obtaining paychecks for the employees from the company, made out to the illegal aliens’ assumed identities, and then cashing those checks and paying the employees in cash. Rangel-Rubio would sometimes withhold money from the employees’ wages for his own gain, and deposit checks in the names of fictitious employees into his own bank account. As part of his plea agreement, Rangel-Rubio agreed that the scheme netted the conspirators more than $3.5 million.
In April 2017, a naturalized citizen employee of the company, Eliud Montoya, contacted the company to report the scheme – and Rangel-Rubio received a copy of Montoya’s written complaint and read it aloud to the other employees in Montoya’s presence. On Aug. 17, 2017, Montoya reported the scheme to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; two days later, Montoya was murdered near his Garden City home. Rangel-Rubio admitted aiding and abetting Montoya’s retaliatory murder.
“Rangel-Rubio’s scheme that not only exploited our nation’s labor laws, but also led to the death of a witness, has thankfully been thwarted and he is facing severe consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Protecting the integrity of the nation’s immigration and labor laws from criminals looking to circumvent them is of vital importance, and HSI prioritizes this mission.”
“Rangel-Rubio exploited one victim after another, using them for labor and stealing hard-earned money from their paychecks,” said Philip Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This plea proves that the FBI is committed to protecting those who blow the whistle on illegal activity and bringing to justice those who exploit others for financial gain.”
The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Garden City Police Department, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Tania D. Groover.