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Sturgis couple accused of scamming foreign workers

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

RAPID CITY (AP) — A Sturgis couple has been indicted on federal charges of scamming Filipino migrant workers by making them pay fees in exchange for help getting temporary work visas.

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Scott Kaubisch, 50, and Shiela Kaubisch, 53, who also goes by Maria Shiela Santos Kaubisch, ran Global Employment Agency Inc. and charged at least five workers between $500 and $4,000 for help in applying for H2-B visas, the Argus Leader reported.

The visas allow foreign nationals to work in the U.S. under the sponsorship of an employer and it's illegal to charge fees to foreigners seeking them.

The Kaubishes were indicted Tuesday in federal court on four criminal counts: conspiring to defraud the United States, wire fraud, false swearing in an immigration matter and false statement.

The indictment alleges that the Kaubisches lied about charging fees to the workers when submitting documents to the departments of Labor and Homeland Security between 2009 and 2011.

The couple's employment agency already figured into a separate legal action involving temporary workers in Custer State Park Resort.

In 2012, the Department of Labor ordered the resort to pay $93,000 in back wages to 72 temporary employees. Labor claimed that Global Employment Agency had charged prospective employees $350 to $1,500.

The Indonesian and Filipino workers were not paid overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours, the government concluded.

Greg Schjodt, CEO of resort operator Regency Hotel Management of Sioux Falls, said in 2012 that the company paid the fine out of respect for the employees, but that it made an honest error.

Schjodt also said at that time that the company was not aware of the fee collection scheme.

If convicted on the new conspiracy charges, the Kaubisches face up to 20 years in prison. They were released on bond.

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