Businessman pleads guilty in labor trafficking case

Published 6:15 pm Monday, November 18, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — A businessman accused of exploiting his construction workers has pleaded guilty as his trial was about to start in Minneapolis.

Forty-seven-year-old Ricardo Ernesto Batres pleaded guilty Monday in Hennepin County to labor trafficking and insurance fraud.

Prosecutors alleged Batres denied the employees health coverage and workers’ compensation and forced them to live in overcrowded housing with no hot water. A criminal complaint says the construction workers did not have authorization to be in the U.S. and when they complained about the conditions, Batres reported them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which deported some of them.

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Under the plea deal, prosecutors are recommending a sentence of nine months in the workhouse with the possibility of early release.

Batres’ company, American Contractors and Associates, provided construction work throughout Hennepin County and the region.