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Prosecutors wrapped up their immigrant-smuggling case against Tyson Foods on Thursday with testimony from a second manager who admitted knowingly hiring illegal workers for a Tyson poultry plant. Spencer Mabe, a former Shelbyville, Tenn., plant manager who pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors, testified under cross-examination Thursday that although he was aware of illegal hirings and dealt with an immigrant smuggler, he never personally inspected employee hiring records. “Any time they came through a recruiter, I pretty much knew they were illegal,” Mabe said. Mabe, who was fired in 2001, earlier told the federal court jury that he went along with hiring illegal workers because he was dedicated to the company. Assistant U.S. Attorney John MacCoon rested the government’s case in the 5-week-old trial Thursday morning. The judge also heard motions by defense attorneys, who said the government had failed to prove that any defendant caused illegal immigrants to be brought into the United States, caused their transport or caused them to possess false Social Security numbers. He did not immediately rule. Tyson and some former managers are accused of hiring illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America as part of a nationwide conspiracy to boost production and profits. Tapes of secretly recorded conversations between undercover agents posing as immigrant smugglers and Tyson managers were a big part of the government’s evidence. Some of those conversations indicated that the hiring of illegal immigrants, particularly through temporary agencies, was routine. Defense attorneys expect their case to take two weeks. The company, based in Springdale, Ark., contends the government’s investigation involved only a few plant managers who independently violated Tyson’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal hiring. But Mabe and another fired manager have testified that executives up the company’s chain of command knew about plants hiring illegal workers. Both pleaded guilty in January to an immigrant smuggling conspiracy charge and face up to of five years in prison at their May 12 sentencings. If found guilty, Tyson could face millions of dollars in fines. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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