U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia –
ROME, Ga. – Juan Antonio Perez has pleaded guilty to the offense of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain. Perez illegally encouraged and induced aliens illegally present in the United States to reside in the United States where they worked for him illegally for his own commercial advantage and private financial gain.
“Perez endangered the livelihood of those who follow the laws governing employment, as well as the lives of those who attempt to illegally enter the United States seeking jobs like those he provided,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Perez used illegal workers for his own personal financial gain without regard for the laws of this country.”
“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. “Preventing the exploitation of people and protecting the integrity of the US immigration system are hallmarks of HSI’s mission and I’m proud of the work done in this case.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charge, and other information presented in court: Juan Antonio Perez allegedly came to the United States illegally in 1992. He has lived in Bartow County, Georgia, and has operated Aztec Framing at least since 2009. Aztec Framing has offices in Cartersville and Rossville, Georgia, and Hixon, Tennessee.
Perez employed illegal aliens at below-market rates, provided no benefits or insurance, and did not pay payroll taxes or Social Security. Perez built a 7,500-square-foot house, bought other houses where he allowed some of his employees to live and purchased more than 30 sports cars and heavily customized trucks for his own personal collection. Yet, the Georgia Department of Labor has no record of Perez reporting any income. Perez also collected firearms, and agents located 14 firearms when his home was searched on April 30, 2019.
On July 7, 2021, Juan Antonio Perez, age 48, of Rydal, Georgia, pleaded guilty 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 the law. Sentencing for Perez is scheduled for October 5, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.
This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, and the Polk County Drug Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Radics is prosecuting the case.