Man pleads guilt to employing immigrants for southwest Michigan oil spill


HOUSTON — An east Texas man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in transporting immigrant workers to southwest Michigan to clean an oil spill.

Prosecutors say 50-year-old Thomas Gard of Nederland, Texas, also conspired to pay the workers less than what was arranged by the contractor for the cleanup in Kalamazoo.

Gard appeared in court Friday on charges related to harboring workers in the country illegally. A second man, 49-year-old Phillip Hallmark of Winnie, Texas, entered a guilty plea in April.

The two men worked as subcontractors who transported at least 42 workers to Kalamazoo after an oil pipeline ruptured in August 2010.

The conspiracy included housing and feeding the workers, who each were paid $800 in cash a week.

Gard and Hallmark face a maximum 10-year prison term.

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