Construction Company Under Fire for Hiring Illegal Aliens Linked to Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hartwick’s Death

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

A construction company that employed a number of illegal aliens is coming under fire after one of those illegal hires allegedly killed Pinellas County, Florida, Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hartwick and another allegedly helped cover up the incident.

As Breitbart News reported, 32-year-old illegal alien Juan Ariel Molina-Salles from Honduras has been arrested and charged with killing Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hartwick in a hit-and-run crash as the deputy was working detail on a construction site.

Police allege that Molina-Salles was operating the large frontloader that hit and killed Hartwick. With many illegal aliens working on the construction site, Molina-Salles allegedly took off from the scene and gave his hard hat and vest to illegal alien Elieser Aurelio Gomez-Zelaya, who proceeded to hide the articles of clothing.

Deputy Michael Hartwick – E.O.W. September 22nd, 2022

Deputy Michael HartwickE.O.W. September 22nd, 2022

Posted by Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Friday, September 23, 2022

Molina-Salles wasn’t arrested until nearly 10 hours following the fatal hit-and-run, partly because so many illegal aliens on the construction site were uncooperative with investigators, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told local media.

Gualtieri said other workers at the scene provided false names. “They were hindering the investigation, not giving us answers to the questions that we needed,” Gualtieri said.

FILE- In this June 7, 2018 file photo Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri gestures as he speaks during a commission meeting in Sunrise, Fla. Guiltieri says he now believes trained, volunteer teachers should have access to guns so they can stop shooters who get past other safeguards. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

In this June 7, 2018, file photo Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri gestures as he speaks during a commission meeting in Sunrise, Florida. Wilfredo Lee, File/AP)

The Georgia-based company Archer Western, a subsidiary of the Walsh Group, hired the illegal aliens as part of its construction project contract with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Executives said they are fully cooperating with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in their investigation into Hartwick’s death and FDOT officials confirmed that Archer Western screened the illegal hires through the federal E-Verify system where they cleared — apparently using fake documents to gain employment.

As a result, FDOT officials said they were launching an “internal review” of the construction project’s contract. Construction has been halted for the time being.

“FDOT and its contractors follow strict hiring procedures,” the agency told local media. “While it appears that these hiring procedures were followed, including a federal E-Verify clearance check, and the individuals in question passed this federal clearance, the Department is initiating an internal review on this project contract. FDOT will also continue to support law enforcement efforts as investigations continue.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said the case is indicative of how illegal immigration impacts American citizens.

“If this individual’s illegal status played into his decision to try to cover up this incident, it underscores just one of the harms that our state faces because of the federal government’s open border policies,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“The State of Florida is not a sanctuary state and illegal immigrants are not authorized to work here,” he continued. “For reasons such as this, we will continue our lawful efforts to interdict and relocate illegal immigrants.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here. 


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