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Updated Nov 18, 2013 - 5:58 pm

Guilty pleas pile up in case against Phoenix car-wash firm

PHOENIX — A criminal case against a metro Phoenix car-wash chain accused
of immigration fraud in its hiring practices has resulted in guilty pleas for
half of the people arrested in a huge summertime raid, and more cases could be
resolved in the coming weeks.

So far, seven of the 14 Danny’s Family Car Wash managers charged as part of an
investigation into the hiring of workers who were in the country illegally have
pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. Location manager Humberto
Dominguez pleaded guilty Monday.

Change-of-plea hearings are expected next month for two other lower level

Ever since the raid, questions have lingered about the extent to which upper
management and ownership at the company knew or played a role in the hiring
practices that federal authorities allege. All but one member of the company’s
top brass have been untouched by the case.

Five lower-level managers have said in pleas that at least one higher-up
instructed them to rehire workers who had to be fired after a federal audit
found nearly half of the company’s 1,900-person workforce had presented
insufficient or ineligible records when they were hired.

Jack Edlund, identified as Danny’s general manger of operations, is the
highest-ranking member of the company to be charged. Edlund has pleaded not
guilty. A call to his attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

Federal immigration authorities who carried out the raid said the two-year
investigation targets the owners, corporate leadership and management of

The company is led by Danny Hendon, a prominent figure in the Phoenix business
community. Edward Novak, an attorney representing the company, declined to
discuss details of the case, but said it is cooperating with federal

The bust by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reflects a new approach by
federal authorities in confronting employers suspected of hiring people who
aren’t legally in the country.

The approach focuses on auditing employment eligibility documents and making
criminal cases against company officials. The focus on criminal cases was made
after authorities concluded that some violators viewed potential civil penalties
as the cost of doing business.


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