Nebraska tomato-growing plant fined $400K for

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A northern Nebraska tomato-growing and packing plant accused of hiring people living in the country illegally has been fined $400,000.

The fine was handed down Wednesday at sentencing for O’Neill Ventures Inc., federal prosecutors said. The business pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to harboring undocumented workers. At the time of the plea, the company accepted terms that called for the $400,000 fine and to allow Homeland Security inspectors to review the company’s hiring practices.

O’Neill Ventures used false names for the workers to hide their identities from enforcement officials and failed to verify the employees could legally work in the U.S., prosecutors said. The case was filed last year, months after agents in 2018 raided businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota that officials say knowingly hired immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally.