By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- A father and son from Payette, Idaho, have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of violating the state's farm labor contractor licensing law.
Angel Alba Sr., 50, and his son, Angel Alba Jr., 20, were fined $700 each and were ordered to serve six months' probation by Washington County Magistrate Gregory Frates. Each man is also subject to another fine of $300 and up to 60 days in jail if they fail to complete probation.
The two were charged with failing to obtain a required farm labor contractor bond or workers' compensation insurance and not paying state, federal or Social Security taxes on wages.
The Albas were licensed to operate in Idaho in 2010 but have not been licensed since, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. It began investigating after receiving formal claims in November from two Alba employees for unpaid wages of $2,500 each for work they did on a Weiser farm.
IDL officials said the department had been told the Albas were operating without a license in Idaho for several years, but the wage claims provided the evidence needed for prosecution.
This was the 10th case initiated by the IDL for violations of the 2003 law, which is designed to protect farmworkers from being taken advantage of by contractors and to protect farmers from liability for workers hired under a farm labor contract.
Farmers who don't deal with a licensed contractor are liable for wages and potentially workers' job-related injuries.
The fine imposed by Frates was the stiffest yet in the 10 cases. The maximum penalty for violating the law is a $1,000 fine and 60 days in jail. No violator has served jail time and until Frates' sentencing, the largest fine was $400.
The fines in two previous cases were less than the cost of the state license.