Steven Nelson, chairman of Wake County GOP Men's Club, is defending the husband of Wake County school board candidate Heather Losurdo amid questions about his guilty plea for hiring illegal immigrants.
In the September issue of the club's newsletter e-mailed this week, Nelson complained that the "left" had targeted Losurdo by not telling the full story about her husband's case. He said he wanted to give more details because "the truth will destroy their ability to use this smear."
Heather Losurdo said she didn't know ahead of time that Nelson would be mentioning her husband's case. But she said her husband was a victim of corrupt business practices who was caught in a difficult situation.
"He got caught between big business and big government," Losurdo said in an interview this morning. "We feel glad that he was able to help the prosecution."
In a nutshell, this January U.S. Department of Justice press release indicates that "on March 28, 2007, Craig Losurdo, an Assistant General Manager of the Albany plant (of IFCO Systems), pled guilty to unlawful employment of illegal aliens." That was a misdemeanor.
IFCO is the is the largest pallet management services company in the United States. The company agreed to pay a $20.7 million federal settlement agreement "for conduct associated with the hiring and employment of illegal alien workers." Several IFCO managers entered guilty pleas.
Here's how Nelson described what happened in the "chairman's rant" section of the newsletter:
"One of the areas where one of our candidates has been targeted is Heather Losurdo and her husband. Of course, the left will not give the whole story, but it came out this week that her husband has been charged with a felony and is awaiting sentencing. Of course, they would love to leave it at that, as the truth will destroy their ability to use this smear. The truth, so you can tell others, is simple. Her husband worked for a company in the northeast that had been hiring illegals. When Craig learned of this practice and the company's decision not to change this practice, he resigned from the company. After he left the company, the feds came after him and arrested him. However, he turned states evidence and due to his assistance, they were able to prosecute the true perpetrators of this crime. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He is awaiting sentencing per the plea arrangement. If he keeps his nose clean for another year, his record will be expunged."
According to this 2007 Business Review article:
"The investigation targeted supervisors who knowingly hired illegal aliens. For instance, during the time Losurdo worked at the Guilderland plant, from October 2004 to June 2005, he admitted in court he knowingly accepted fraudulent documents to hire at least 13 Hispanic illegal aliens. Several times he hired people who had no valid identification.
Among his crimes, Losurdo admitted to filling out federal employment verification forms for workers, falsely attesting they were authorized to work in the U.S.; working with other managers to manipulate paperwork; signing leases to house the workers and, with other plant managers, provide them with transportation to work; and writing a $500 company check to help one pallet worker get his father across the border from Mexico to work at the Guilderland plant.
In carrying out these and other acts, Losurdo said he was trained to do so by supervisors. Losurdo quit his job in June 2005 because he objected to the company's practices."
Heather Losurdo said that her husband wanted to leave the job when his supervisors told him to do those illegal practices. But she said as the sole income in a house with young children he couldn't just quit immediately. He left after eight months.
"He did what they told him to do," Heather Losurdo said. "He got caught in the middle."
Rumors about her husband's case have been floating out there for awhile. But it got on the record when Nelson responded in the newsletter to anonymous comments posted earlier in the week on the WakeED blog.
"We knew it was going to come out at some point," Losurdo said. "It's not something we're trying to hide."
It's been a rough week for Losurdo. You had the Wake Schools Community Alliance going after her. Then you had Progress NC Action launching a website attacking her. Now she's explaining to supporters what happened in her husband's case.
"I don't think it will have any impact on my campaign or my ability to lead," Losurdo said.