Dairy farmer gets 2-year prison sentence for illegal labor

CASS CITY, Mich. (AP) – The owner of two Michigan dairy farms has been sentenced to two years in prison for harboring illegal workers.

Denis Burke admitted that he employed more than 100 people who were in the U.S. without legal permission. He was sentenced Thursday in Bay City federal court.

Burke, a native of Ireland, owns Parisville Dairy. He also owns half of Dunganstown Dairy, both located in Michigan’s Thumb region.

In a court filing, his lawyer warned that a prison sentence would “result in the financial ruin” of the farms, which have 3,500 cows. Daniel Vaccaro says Burke made mistakes but treated his workers fairly and paid them $8 to $11 per hour.

Burke and his farms must pay $1.38 million in fines. His wife was sentenced to probation last fall.

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