Michigan Dairyman Sentenced to Prison for Hiring Illegal Immigrants

A dairy farmer in Michigan has been sentenced to serve time in federal prison and pay a hefty fine after hiring undocumented immigrants.

On Jan. 4, dairy farmer Denis Burke was sentenced to two years in prison by U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington. Following the time served, Burke will have another two years of supervised release.

A fine of $1.38 million was assessed against Burke and his farms.

From February 2008 to May 2013 the Burke hired and harbored more than 100 illegal immigrants on two farms located in Huron County and Tuscola County.

Burke was not immediately taken into custody as the judge granted him additional time to self-report to the U.S. Marshals Services.

Burke already pled guilty in September to knowingly harboring illegal aliens for private gain and/or commercial advantage. Under a plea agreement Burke was not prosecuted for four more charges of the same crime.

"Denis Burke gave the illegal aliens free housing on or next to his farms so the illegal aliens would be readily available for work and less accessible to immigration authorities," the plea deal document says. "Because the illegal aliens lacked valid documentation, they could not get driver's licenses, open accounts at financial institutions so they could cash paychecks themselves, or register vehicles with the Michigan Secretary of State."

Madeline Burke, co-defendant and wife to Burke, also pled guilty in June to one count of hiring without verification of employment eligibility. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and pay a fine of $187,500.

The Burkes emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. and milked 3,500 cows at their Parisville Dairy and Dunganstown Dairy.