NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WRIC) — A Midlothian man pleaded guilty this week for his involvement in a labor trafficking conspiracy in which he benefited from money laundering and forced labor from undocumented workers at his Williamsburg laundry business between 2018 and 2022.

According to court documents, George William Evans, 68, was the partial owner of Magnolia Cleaning Services, a commercial laundry business in Williamsburg. Evans, alongside other members of the business, benefitted from employing undocumented people from Central America at Magnolia Cleaning Services. This is a practice commonly referred to as labor trafficking.

Evans and his coconspirators exploited these undocumented workers by forcing them to work long hours in poor working conditions, often under the threat with deportation and harm to themselves or their families. Some notable examples described by court documents included workers who lived in the laundry facility without access to a kitchen, shower or bathtub, and one employee who was a child and was made to work night shifts after attending school during the day.

Between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2022, the business’s wage records reflect approximately 121 employees with alleged invalid or mismatched Social Security Numbers. Wage payments for these employees totaled more than $1.2 million.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Evans pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud and commit offenses against the United States and engaging in a transaction in criminally derived property. Evans agreed to forfeit an amount of no less than $3.9 million to the United States. He agreed to pay $1.9 million of this amount no later than 30 days before his sentencing. 

Evans is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy offense and 10 years for the money laundering offense. 

An unsealed indictment from December 2022 revealed that Ana Patricia Landaverde, 47, and Jeffrey Dean Vaughan, 64, both of Williamsburg, were involved in the conspiracy alongside Evans. This indictment also mentioned a fourth unnamed person who allegedly sold prospective employees counterfeit permanent resident cards and social security cards so they could work in the United States.

Landaverde, Vaughan and Evans all made their initial appearance in court on Dec. 8, 2022.