Feds arrest Streamwood company operators, accuse them of hiring illegal workers through Elgin firm
Four current and former operators of a Streamwood sheet metal fabrication company were arrested by federal immigration officers Friday and charged with hiring through an Elgin staffing firm immigrants living in the country illegally, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago said.
Dora Kuzelka, 81, of Elgin, Kenneth Kuzelka, 62, of Chicago, Kari Kuzelka, 56, of Elgin, and Keith Kuzelka, 58, of Elgin each face the federal charges of knowingly harboring an illegal alien and knowingly engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring illegal aliens.
The U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois, based in Chicago, said the Kuzelkas knowingly hired at least 18 undocumented workers at KSO MetalFab Inc. Keith Kuzelka left the company last year, while the three other Kuzelkas continue to serve in executive management positions, the complaint filed in federal court in Chicago says.
Dora Kuzelka, Kenneth Kuzelka and Kari Kuzelka were arrested Friday morning, while Keith Kuzelka surrendered to authorities Friday afternoon, the U.S. attorney's office said. All four defendants appeared in federal court in Chicago Friday afternoon and were ordered released on recognizance bonds. They are next to appear in court Oct. 29.
According to the complaint, Homeland Security's investigative office in Chicago conducted an audit of KSO MetalFab in 2017 and determined that 36 of the company's 67 employees were suspected of using fraudulent work authorization documents to verify their eligibility for employment. HSI served the company with a notice of the suspected violations, and the company responded by attesting it had terminated those 36 employees.
Then Keith Kuzelka, who worked for KSO from 2010 to 2018, contacted authorities in December 2018 and told them KSO worked with a "Company A" to bring back at least 18 of those workers as temporary employees, the complaint says.
"Company A" is Metro Staff Inc., an Elgin business, the U.S. attorney's office confirmed.
"Apparently they fired them and brought them back through the staffing company," said Joseph Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Keith Kuzelka said KSO paid the company a fee in addition to the workers' wages, according to the complaint. He also alleged an overtime and tax fraud scheme by the company.
The U.S. attorney's office did not say what, if anything, happened to the workers on Friday.
Immigration officers also were at the Metro Staff office on McLean Boulevard in Elgin Friday, but no arrests were made there, Fitzpatrick said. They were there for "other law enforcement activity," he said.
No one at the business answered the phone Friday afternoon.
Shawn Neudauer, public affairs officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, referred questions to the U.S. attorney's office, saying, "This matter is part of an ongoing criminal investigation."
The U.S. attorney's office said it, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations were involved in the probe and arrests, as was the U.S. Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration.
Elgin police said they were notified by Homeland Security investigators Thursday night about the action Friday. "They said there would be some enforcement action within our jurisdiction," police Cmdr. Rick Ciganek said.
The notification was a courtesy commonly extended by outside law enforcement agencies when doing operations in town, Ciganek said.
• Daily Herald reporter Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.