Seafood company owner pleads guilty to visa fraud
BALTIMORE (AP) — An Eastern Shore ice and seafood company and its owner have pleaded guilty to employing foreign workers illegally and visa fraud in a manipulation of a seasonal worker program to boost profits at the workers’ expense, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Capt. Phip’s Seafood and its owners “engaged in a calculated pattern of visa fraud,” deceiving the government and leaving employees with lower wages, Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a news release.
The company used the H2-B visa program to hire temporary foreign workers for seasonal positions, but prosecutors said the company had workers slotted for low pay perform higher-paying work, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Philip J. Harrington, Jr. was Capt. Phip’s owner until his 2018 death, but his son, Phillip “Jamie” Harrington III, told agents he was “running the business” before succeeding his father, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
In 2018, the younger Harrington admitted to government agents that the company wasn’t complying with requirements and workers were performing duties outside the scope of their visas, prosecutors said. The government’s analysis showed that the company employed about 89 workers illegally between 2013 and 2018.
Sentencing for Harrington and the Secretary-based company is set for Nov. 23. The Sun reported that Harrington couldn’t be reached through the company.