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Tree company to pay record fine for immigration practices

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia company that trims trees around power lines throughout the United States will pay a record fine after pleading guilty in a scheme to employ people in the country illegally.

Asplundh (AH’-splund) Tree Expert Co. of Willow Grove pleaded guilty Thursday to one criminal count. A federal judge sentenced the company to pay a total of $95 million. Prosecutors say it’s the largest monetary penalty ever levied in an immigration case.

Prosecutors say the company “remained willfully blind” while managers hired workers they knew to be in the country illegally. Authorities say Asplundh’s hiring practices allowed it to “dominate the market” for tree-trimming and brush clearance.

The family-owned company’s CEO says Asplundh has reformed its hiring practices.

Asplundh employs 30,000 workers in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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