July 31, 2009

Raeford to fight illegal hiring charges

Lawyers said two managers at House of Raeford Farms in South Carolina were preparing to fight charges they intentionally hired illegal workers.

Authorities charged human resources manager Elaine Crump and plant manager Barry Cronic with hiring undocumented workers for about eight years before 300 plant workers were arrested in a raid in October 2008, the Charlotte, N.C., Observer reported Friday.

Cronic's attorney, Bart Daniel, said he was preparing for trial. Attorney Bill Coates, who represents Crump, said his client expects to be exonerated.

The two defendants work at Columbia Farms, a chicken processing plant owned by House of Raeford Farms, a company with 6,000 workers in several states.

The company said in a statement it looks forward to vindicating the company's position in a court of law.

Most of the workers arrested in the raid have been deported, but others have been convicted of using fraudulent documents to obtain their jobs, the newspaper said.

The managers were arraigned Thursday and could be tried on the charges by November, the newspaper said.