September 26, 2018 06:36 PM
A Twin Cities contractor has been charged with labor trafficking, theft-by-swindle and insurance fraud in Hennepin County, court records show.
Charges against 46-year-old Ricardo Ernesto Batres were filed Tuesday, the same day a press release from the Minnesota Department of Commerce states he was placed under arrest.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
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The criminal complaint states Batres "recruited and enticed" individuals to work for his company, American Contractors and Associates, LLC, though he knew the men were undocumented workers. And that he "used that knowledge as leverage to force them to work long hours, for less than market pay, and without adequate safety protections."
And that he housed workers in an overcrowded house in Bloomington with no hot water.
It also alleges he knew he had not purchased workers' compensation insurance as required by law. Instead, when workers were injured, he reportedly told them "that they would lose their jobs and be deported if they sought medical attention."
"He promised everyone good wages and healthcare and sometimes housing - well, that's not what happened," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "You exploit them, you threaten to turn them over to ICE, you pay them less."
The complaint goes on to claim Batres "repeatedly made false statements to insurance companies for the purpose of evading workers' compensation laws," even going so far as to file false information in an application for emergency medical insurance that resulted in more than $45,000 in public funds going to cover medical bills that should have been covered by a mandatory workers' compensation policy.
Updated: September 26, 2018 06:36 PM
Created: September 26, 2018 03:26 PM
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