Lake County Businessman Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Harbor Illegal Aliens

Mar 22, 2024

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida

Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Rodrigo Hernandez-Valerio (58, Leesburg) has pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. Hernandez faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court records, Hernandez owns and operates a concrete company in Lake County. Between at least August 2002 and April 2021, approximately 87% of Hernandez’s employees were hired with false or fictitious identification information and documents. At least 57 of the 65 people employed by Hernandez during this time—including members of his own family—were not lawfully present in the United States and were ineligible to work. Despite being ineligible to work, Hernandez paid his three brothers a combined $2.5 million in their positions at his company. Hernandez admitted that he knew his family members were in the United States unlawfully when he hired them and knew the documents his brothers had provided for employment were “bad.” Hernandez’s actions in employing his brothers shielded them from detection by law enforcement within the United States.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hannah Nowalk.

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