Aztec Framing owner pleads guilty to recruiting illegal foreign workers

ROME, Georgia (WDEF) – A Georgia businessman who had operations in our area has pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens.

Juan Antonio Perez lives in Bartow County.

But he owns Aztec Framing that had offices in Rossville and Hixson.

Those offices were raided in 2019 as part of the investigation.

Investigators say he recruited, hid and hired illegal workers from other countries.

Prosecutors say Perez entered the U.S. illegally, himself, in 1992.

He operated Aztec Framing since 2009 and it made him wealthy.

“The old saying that crime doesn’t pay couldn’t be truer than in this instance. Perez thought his scheme to exploit desperate people looking for work and a better life would go unnoticed, but he was wrong and will now be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama.

They say he paid his illegal workers below-market rates, offered no benefits or insurance and failed to pay either payroll or Social Security taxes on them.

He earned enough to build a 7,500-square-foot house along with other houses for some of his employees.

Perez owned more than 30 sports cars and customized trucks and collected firearms.

But the state of Georgia has no record of him reporting any income.

Perez pleaded guilty on Wednesday to “knowingly encouraging and inducing aliens to come to, enter, and reside in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, and residence in the United States was in violation of law.”

He will be sentenced in October.

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