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Howard's Dakota Beef admits hiring illegal workers

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP)--Dakota Beef in Howard has pleaded guilty to federal charges that it knowingly hired 15 illegal immigrants in 2007 and 2008 to work at its organic meatpacking plant.

According to a plea agreement filed Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, prosecutors will recommend that a judge fine the company $37,500.

U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said seven of the workers are being prosecuted on identity theft-type charges and the other eight people are at large or being processed for immigration violations.

A court filing against one of the employees describes a June 24 immigration raid at the plant in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents executed arrest warrants and several Hispanic employees ran out of the plant.

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