KEARNEY, NE – Kearney businessman Paul Younes has been placed on five years probation and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine for employing an illegal immigrant.
Younes, 63, previously pleaded guilty to the unlawful employment of an undocumented worker. He was sentenced this morning in U.S. District Court in Omaha in an 8-minute hearing before Judge Lyle Strom. The fine is the maximum Younes faced for the offense.
Kearney Hospitality Inc. also was fined $150,000 fine and placed on five years probation. It faced as much as a $500,000 fine.
Younes is an officer and director of corporations that own and/or run hotels in Nebraska, including the Holiday Inn Express in Hastings and the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Kearney.
In a written statement from his attorney, Paul Forney of Omaha, Younes said:
“I myself, as well as Kearney Hospitality, Inc., have taken full responsibility for our part in the hiring of an employee who was unauthorized to work under the U.S. immigration laws. We, as an organization, have taken appropriate measures to ensure this type of incident does not occur in the future.
“We have paid the imposed fines and we are committed to fully complying with the terms of probation. We look forward to putting this matter behind us so we can continue to focus on providing exceptional guest satisfaction at our hotels.”
Stephanie Hagemeier, 43, of Hastings was sentenced in April to probation and to pay a $500 fine for her role in the incident for aiding and abetting the unlawful hiring of an alien.
According to U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg, The investigation revealed that Blanca Gama, a citizen of Mexico who was not lawfully in the United States, was employed as the supervisor of housekeeping at the Holiday Inn Express in Hastings where Hagemeier is employed as the manager. In 2014, Hagemeier learned Gama was under investigation by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Gama quit her job at the Holiday Inn Express, but later met with Younes who arranged for her to work in the housekeeping department at Fairfield Inn & Suites under the name Elizabeth Gomez. At Gama’s request, Younes later authorized Gama’s re-hire at the Holiday Inn Express in Hastings under the name Jacqueline Lopez even though she continued to be referred to as Blanca Gama at that location.
Hagemeier signed the I-9 form, proving the woman was legal to work in the U.S., even though she knew that Gama was not Jacqueline Lopez.