An employer who pleaded guilty to four sets of charges involving work permits was ordered to pay over $4,000 last week and given a prison sentence of three months, suspended for two years.

“When persons are caught working without a permit, the court sometimes puts them in jail,” Magistrate Valdis Foldats noted. “If the person who works goes to jail, then the employer who allows that person to work should go to jail.”

He was dealing with charges against Denia Yamileth Fieroha Bush, including employment of another person without a work permit, making a false representation, and failing to come to court.

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm and defense attorney Waide DaCosta explained the background to the charges.

Ms. Bush was the manager of the Meringue Town Restaurant in George Town and applied for an employee’s work permit renewal in September 2016, but the permit had expired in August 2016. She explained that when she took up management, she had been told the date was in September. She agreed to pay an administrative fine of $600, but paid only $200.

In October 2016, Immigration Department officers attended Campbell’s Bar, also in George Town, to conduct a spot check and confirm the status of workers. Four females were identified by customers as serving food and beverages. All four were found to be in breach of the Immigration Law. They were dealt with administratively. Ms. Bush accepted responsibility and agreed to settle the matter administratively in November 2016. She was fined by the department $2,960, but did not pay.

The charge of false representation involved a woman working at Meringue Town between September and December 2016 without a permit. Ms. Bush initially said the worker had been granted a permit as a domestic helper, but was fired because she did not want to perform her duties. She said the permit was not canceled because she was giving the woman an opportunity to find employment elsewhere.

In March 2017, Ms. Bush attended the Immigration Department accompanied by Mr. DaCosta and admitted that she had employed the woman as a food and beverage server at Meringue Town.

Mr. DaCosta told the court that the defendant had been in partnership with another person and had taken on the actual management of the business. She had learned her lesson and was now solely responsible.

While the matter was continuing, she missed court on Jan. 18 this year.

The magistrate said that the false representation was dishonest and something needed to be said so that employers were aware of how serious immigration offenses are.

Mr. DaCosta advised that Ms. Bush “has brought herself up to standard. She did make certain statements, but once she got legal advice, she made the admissions.”

The magistrate said that was an important point – that she had done the right thing.

He told Ms. Bush, “Thank you for doing the right thing – taking advice, taking responsibility.”

For the false representation, he imposed the prison sentence and suspended it. The consequence was that, if she came back to court for any other offense, she could be sent to jail immediately for this three-month term and any new one. She was also ordered to pay costs of $500.

For the first offense, when she did not pay the administrative fine in full in 2016, she was fined the balance of $400 plus $100 in costs.

For the four servers who had no permit, she was fined $740 each plus $200 in costs.

For missing court, the fine was $50.

Fines and costs totaled $4,210. She was given time to pay.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.