Crime — 11 April 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
Two contractors charged for employing undocumented worker

Two contractors, a Belizean and a Salvadoran with Belizean permanent residency, appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer on Tuesday to answer to a charge of employing a person who is not in possession of a valid temporary work permit.

Belizean contractor Oscar Rene Chan, 45, a resident of Succotz, Cayo District, pleaded not guilty to the charge, thereby challenging the Immigration Department, which levied the charge.

But Salvadoran Samuel Elias Zelada Cosmi, a resident of Mahogany Street who has been living in Belize since 1993 and has permanent residency status, pleaded guilty to the charge.

Magistrate Frazer fined Cosmi $1,000 plus $5 cost of court for his guilty plea. She ordered him to pay by April 30, 2014; if he defaults, he will have to spend six months in prison.

Cosmi is accused of employing Honduran Edwin Alexander Ponce Erazo, who was found working at a construction site at the Belize Builtmore Hotel on Monday, April 7.

And according to the immigration officers, on that same day, they found Honduran Jose Antonio Wilpes Ortiz employed at the same construction site, and when they checked into his status, they discovered that he did not have a temporary work permit.

Ortiz was allegedly employed by Chan.

When the Senior Magistrate asked Chan if he understood the charge, and if he had Ortiz employed at his site, and if he (Ortiz) has his work permit, Chan replied, “I neva had him doing any work.”

Chan was released on a $1,000 bail and Frazer adjourned his case to May 8.

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