Blanca Gama, a citizen of Mexico who was in the U.S. illegally, was shuffled back and forth between two different hotels, under fake names, to get around the illegal immigrant employment laws.  Finally, it caught up with them, and several people are paying the penalty.

Kearney, Nebraska businessman Paul Younes, 63, was sentenced Monday to the maximum penalty for the offense – five years’ probation and a $3,000 fine for employing an illegal immigrant.  Younes is a director for the corporation that owns and manages multiple hotels in Nebraska, including the Holiday Inn Express in Hastings and the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Kearney.

The corporation, Kearney Hospitality, Inc. was fined $150,000 and placed on five years’ probation as well.  The maximum fine it could have received was $500,000.

In addition, Stephanie Hagemeier, 43, of Hastings, was fined $500 and received probation for her role in the scheme.   She was the manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Hastings and had hired Gama as housekeeping supervisor.

In a written statement from his attorney, Paul Forney of Omaha, Younes said: “I myself, as well as Kearney Hospitality, Inc., have taken full responsibility for our part in the hiring of an employee who was unauthorized to work under the U.S. immigration laws. We, as an organization, have taken appropriate measures to ensure this type of incident does not occur in the future.

“We have paid the imposed fines and we are committed to fully complying with the terms of probation. We look forward to putting this matter behind us so we can continue to focus on providing exceptional guest satisfaction at our hotels.”

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