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Immigration Businesses Targeted

An ICE bus pulls out of a tomato plant in O'Neill after an immigration raid at the plant in August 2018. 

At the end of a two-week trial, the government said Juan Pablo Delgado got filthy rich exploiting a cheap workforce of illegal immigrants who couldn't speak up without fear of deportation.

But the longtime O'Neill resident who will be deported to Mexico after he serves time for his crime (he's already pleaded guilty) wasn't the only one who profited, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Woods said Friday in closing arguments at trial of two co-defendants.

"They all got something out of it," she said.

John Glidden and Mayra Jimenez, the two on trial for conspiracy to harbor workers illegally, both worked at ag businesses. Glidden was a manager at Long Pine Hog Confinement near Royal. Jimenez still works in human resources at O'Neill Ventures, a tomato plant near O'Neill.

Both got employees through Delgado's staffing company, which supplied workers on contract to those companies and others.

Woods said Glidden and Jimenez both warned Delgado when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was in the area. Glidden offered housing for workers when he knew they were here illegally and Jimenez provided identities for the workers to hide behind.

She said Glidden didn't ask when issues came up about Delgado's workers because Glidden didn't care. He had a big job to do managing a large hog barn and it was hard to find workers.

A handful of the workers nabbed at the tomato plant the day of the ICE raid Aug. 8, 2018, testified at trial that Jimenez knew they were in the country illegally.

Jimenez testified tearfully earlier in the day about how people came into her office that day and handcuffed her. She was just worried about her 18-year-old daughter, who was working there, too, and her three other children at school and day care.

"It was hard," she said.

Her attorney, Candice Wooster, said it wasn't Jimenez's intention "to conceal or harbor anyone or do anything like that."

The people who testified that she knew all got something in return, at the very least deferred-action status, she said.

Wooster said Jimenez got workers' names and information from Delgado, who was supposed to have checked their documents. She wasn't providing workers with identities.

Delgado testified that Jimenez was an interpreter, a secretary, a middleman.

"She's literally stuck in the middle," Wooster said. "But that's all she did, relay information."

Delgado even told Jimenez at one point he was going to check the workers' documents better after telling her he had found two had faulty documents and booted them.

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"If she was part of the conspiracy, why would she care?" Wooster argued.

Glidden's attorney, Carlos Monzón, focused on Delgado, calling him "a thief, a liar and an opportunist who fooled the whole town" and kept the plot even from his own wife.

She also has pleaded guilty to a role in the conspiracy.

Monzón said Delgado had $5,436,000 worth of reasons — the amount the government says he made off the scheme — to claim that his business was legal and to keep what he was doing a secret.

He said Glidden was a good, hard-working man who was "duped, taken advantage of, by none other than Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, just like everybody else."

On the other side, Woods argued that Glidden's and Jimenez's actions, even just looking the other way, helped Delgado get more powerful over time.

"If you're surrounded by the obvious, you should know the obvious," she said.

Woods told the jury the conspiracy did a lot of damage, not only to the workers, but also to the taxpayers of Nebraska. Taxes weren't paid on millions of dollars of wages. Money that should've gone to roads and schools, she said.

The jury of 10 men and two women got the case shortly after 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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