A Bartow County businessman is facing charges he profited by hiring and paying no payroll taxes on illegal workers, illegally owned firearms and reported no personal income despite owning houses, trucks and sports cars.
A federal grand jury on Tuesday, May 7, indicted Juan Antonio Perez, 46, of Rydal. He was set to be arraigned Monday, May 13, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson.
Perez was indicted on charges his construction company, Aztec Framing, profited by employing illegal aliens and paying them below-market wages, a news release stated.
He also was charged with being an illegal alien in possession of 14 firearms. Federal law prohibits illegal aliens from possessing firearms.
“Perez not only broke the law by allegedly hiring illegal aliens at below-market wages and paying no taxes, he had a large assortment of weapons including shotguns and pistols that he had acquired through various means other than buying them himself,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.
“Illegal aliens, such as Perez, are not allowed to own firearms at all. We will get to the bottom of how he acquired them.”
Nick S. Annan, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta, said, “Individuals, like Mr. Perez, who flagrantly violate federal law to give themselves an unfair business advantage are cheating both law-abiding employers and employees exploited by these unfair and illegal labor practices.
“This case is an illustration of serious threats to public safety on numerous levels. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to focus not only on workers who violate federal law but also their employers.”
Perez allegedly came to the U.S. illegally in 1992. He has lived in Bartow County and operated Aztec Framing at least since 2009. Aztec Framing operated in northwest Georgia and eastern Tennessee, and has offices in Cartersville and Rossville and Hixson, Tennessee, according to Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court.
Perez allegedly employed illegal aliens at below-market rates, provided no benefits or insurance, and did not pay payroll taxes or Social Security, the release stated.
As of April 2019, the Georgia Department of Labor had no record of Perez reporting any income. However, he was able to build a 7,500-square-foot house, buy other houses where he allowed some of his employees to live, and bought more than 50 sports cars and heavily customized trucks, the release stated.
Perez also had 14 firearms in his home when agents searched it on April 30.
The U.S. Justice Department release noted that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, the release stated.
The Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations are investigating the case, with assistance from the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, the GBI, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, and the Polk County Drug Task Force.