14 NE firms fined by immigration agency

A Newton masonry firm and an Allston cleaning company were among 14 New England companies that were fined a combined $285,000 during the past fiscal year for failing to document that their workers were in the country legally, federal authorities announced today.

The fines followed audits by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of federal I-9 forms, paperwork that must be filled out by employees when they are hired to show they have legal authorization to work.

Eight of the cited companies were in Massachusetts, including masonry contractor D’Agostino Associates Inc. in Newton, which was fined $22,792. Commercial Cleaning Service in Allston was fined $100,000.

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The immigration agency also said it fined Andover Healthcare Inc., of Salisbury; All In One Insulation Inc. of West Boylston; Polcari Enterprises Inc., of Saugus; Seatrade International, of New Bedford; Harvest Co-op Markets, of Cambridge; and Collt Mfg. Inc., of Millis. The amounts of those fines were not released.

Some of the fined companies were found to have “suspect documents,’’ said Bruce M. Foucart, head of investigations for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in New England.

“That means more than likely they had an illegal workforce,’’ Foucart said by phone today. “By not having the proper paperwork, workers had to be let go.’’

Fine amounts are calculated based on the seriousness of violations, whether companies were cooperative and whether there were multiple offenses, he said.

While none of the 14 companies appealed, some negotiated lesser fines; others agreed to pay the initial amounts ordered.

The owner of D’Agostino Associates, Romeo D’Agostino, said his company was fined simply for not properly filling out paperwork.

“I didn’t dot my i’s and cross my t’s,’’ he said by phone. “It’s nothing about illegals. I don’t hire illegals.’’

In 2006, the Globe reported that the company “had 19 instances of workers with bogus or questionable Social Security numbers on public school projects in Littleton and North Easton.’’

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A voicemail left this afternoon at the Allston cleaning company was not returned.

Nationally, ICE says that since it initiated Form I-9 inspections, nearly 4,000 businesses have been fined nearly $7 million combined.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at [email protected]

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