Thursday, July 9, 2009

Business Owner Indicted Following Employer Sanctions Investigation

Another Historic First Shows Commitment to Prosecuting Owners and Employers

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that Raphael Libardi (DOB 3/9/61) has been indicted on identity theft, fraud, and theft charges following a joint employer sanctions investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and County Attorney’s Office. He is the first business owner to be criminally prosecuted as the result of an employer sanctions investigation.

According to the probable cause statement filed by the Sheriff’s Office, deputies received an anonymous tip that Libardi, who owns a granite business, is in the United States illegally. Libardi, a citizen of Brazil, started using a the social security number of an elderly man as early as 2002 to establish his business, buy a $500,000 home in Anthem, and to buy two vehicles, one of them an Escalade.

Sheriff’s detectives learned the victim had passed away in December, 2008. The victim’s daughter says she is willing to assist in the investigation. On June 30, 2009, sheriff’s deputies arrested Libardi. He is being held without bond.

On July 7, 2009 a grand jury indicted Libardi on the following charges:

• Taking the Identity of Another, a class 4 felony
• Two counts of Fraudulent Schemes, class 2 felonies
• Two counts of Theft of Means of Transportation, class 3 felonies
• Five counts of Forgery, class 4 felonies

This case represents the most serious charges leveled against a business owner as a result of an employer sanctions raid in Arizona. The County Attorney’s Office also has obtained indictments of a supervisor at Waterworld and a supervisor at Management Cleaning Controls. There have been 21 employer sanctions investigations since the law took effect last year. Those investigations are ongoing as the County Attorney’s Office continues its efforts to bring criminal charges where appropriate against managers and business owners, and working towards possible civil actions to suspend or revoke a business license.

Thomas stated, “This case shows my continued commitment to prosecuting employers who hire illegal immigrants or violate immigration-related laws. I will prosecute owners, employers, managers, and employees who commit criminal offenses that foster illegal immigration into Arizona. The Legal Arizona Workers Act sets a very high legal standard that must be met to suspend or revoke a business license, and as a result it’s been tough to build a civil case against an employer. However, we are making steady progress and stand ready to bring such a case when appropriate.”

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