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Feds seek prison for car wash chain’s former owner

November 14, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) — Federal prosecutors are urging that the former owner of a chain of Phoenix-area car washes go to prison for illegal hiring at his business, while the man’s lawyers are urging a sentence of probation, home confinement and community service.

Daniel Lewis Hendon, the former owner of Danny’s Family Car Wash, will be sentenced Nov. 21 on his guilty plea to a felony charge of identity fraud. Hendon was implicated in the scheme by 14 current or former managers who have pleaded guilty to the same charge.

The prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday recommends an 18-month prison sentence followed by 19 months of home confinement.

The prosecutors said a prison sentence is appropriate because Hendon engaged in a “massive, multi-year, company-wide scheme” to employ hundreds of people not authorized to work in the United States.

Prosecutors said Hendon pressured managers to rehire hundreds of unauthorized workers who had been fired in 2011 after a federal workplace audit determined they were working illegally. He threatened those managers who balked with the loss of their own jobs, only to fire many of them later after they were charged in the criminal case now wrapping up, prosecutors said.

While the prosecutors called the firings of the managers “distasteful,” the defense lawyers said in a memo filed Thursday that those firings resulted from a “decision that was made in the best interests of the company.”

The defense lawyers said a sentence without prison time is warranted because the 64-year-old Hendon is remorseful, has lost his business, is battling Parkinson’s disease and is caring for his elderly mother

While the prosecutors said Hendon should be sentenced to prison to “send a message to the Arizona business community that unlawful hiring practices ... will be punished severely,” his lawyers said it isn’t necessary.

Hendon is without any savings, now has a criminal record and has lost his reputation and his business, which he won’t be able to pass on to his daughter as he long intended, his lawyers wrote.

“Even without a prison sentence, that message has been sent,” the defense memorandum stated. “No business owner would trade places with Danny.”

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