By STEVE BROWN

Capital Press

DUVALL, Wash. -- A May 1 court hearing has been set to consider charges filed against a Washington state farm accused of harboring a Mexican citizen unauthorized to work in the U.S.

Prosecutors in Seattle filed the charges April 13 against HerbCo International Inc., which grows culinary herbs at several farms across the country. The charges state that a Mexican citizen, referred to as MAC, was illegally employed by the company during the period of April 22-June 30, 2011.

"The document references one individual, but I don't think anyone should assume that is the basis for the investigation," said Emily Langlie, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle.

Until the court date, she said, no further information would be forthcoming.

Ted Andrews, chief executive officer of HerbCo, said he also could make no comment on the case on advice of counsel.

Andrews said the farm has been in business since 1991, employing 450 workers at its farms in Washington, Colorado, Texas, Michigan, California and Hawaii.

The company is in its fourth year of hiring workers through the federal H-2A program, which allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.

"It's an expensive and arduous process," he said, "but we get workers who are willing and able to work."

Andrews has had a stable workforce in that time.

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