Doris Ruiz, the former high-profile owner of a Minneapolis temporary staffing agency, is going to prison for a year and a day for pocketing more than $425,000 withheld from employees’ paychecks for taxes.
The 40-year-old native of Peru once served on the Latino Advisory Committee for the mayor of Minneapolis, following her success with Olen Staff Co., a company she started in 2001.
Federal agents shut down that company in 2008, following an investigation into allegations she supplied false documentation and placed illegal immigrants, most of them Mexican-born workers, with employers in several states. However, the federal investigation into her activities and company continued.
That investigation led to this indictment, and then a plea agreement, where Ruiz reportedly admitted to collecting and withholding about $150,000 from employees for federal income taxes and $276,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. Further, for a two-year period, she says she did not pay any taxes for herself or the workers.
Ruiz reportedly admitted to collecting and withholding about $150,000 from employees for federal income taxes and $276,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.
In exchange for pleading guilty and for agreeing to pay all money owed, Ruiz escaped further prosecution, at least relating to employment taxes.
Law enforcement became aware of Ruiz in 2006, when a sheriff’s deputy stopped her and three other adults in a car. She said they were all on their way to a job site in Wisconsin. Federal agents discovered later the workers with her in the car were in the country illegally.
According to news reports, two months later, a confidential informant posed as a temporary job seeker with no documentation, and Ruiz allegedly set him up with a job and an apartment.
Ruiz went under the radar for a while, but in April of 2011, she surfaced again, and again there were rumors and allegations of employing illegal immigrants on various job sites.
I traveled to one of those job sites in northeast Minneapolis, where Spanish-speaking workers were replacing the slate tile roof of a large home that had been turned into a youth shelter.
The men wouldn’t talk to me, but they did speak to a reporter at the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper. He told the paper the roofers were employed by a couple of subcontractors hired by Ruiz, and that all of them were allegedly no son bañados, or undocumented.
The roofers were employed by a couple of subcontractors hired by Ruiz, and that all of them were allegedly no son bañados, or undocumented.
At The Works, TempWorks’ first-ever industry conference in Minneapolis last week, the subject of hiring undocumented workers came up. It was particularly salient since several of the event’s attendees were from Texas and the Gulf Coast region of the U.S., areas where the issue of undocumented workers is a hot topic.
Several of these staffing agency owners and principals stated unequivocally, that they are competing against staffing agencies who knowingly – and deliberately – use illegal immigrants. And that it is in fact built into their very business model.
That’s crazy, was the consensus of the conversation. If you operate your business in such a manner consistently, it’s only a matter of when, not if, ICE agents will show up at your door. And the downside is way steep! You stand to lose your business, your savings, all you worked for, and even your freedom, as Doris Ruiz learned.
Do you know of companies operating in such a manner in your market? What do you think about that? Can you compete against them? Do you think they will get caught? Or is the cheating simply too widespread?