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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Tyson Foods and three of its managers yesterday were cleared here of charges that they conspired to hire illegal aliens to boost production at their plants when they couldn't find Americans to work the $7.00 an hour jobs.
A federal jury deliberated less than a day before reaching its verdict, acquitting the defendants in a case stemming from a four-year investigation in which undercover agents posed as immigrant smugglers.
"The verdict confirms that Tyson Foods made a concerted effort to hire properly and abide by the law," Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson said in a statement. "While we're pleased with today's verdict, it's unfortunate that Tyson Foods and our team members were needlessly subjected to this ordeal."
The company and six managers were indicted in 2001 on charges that they hired illegal workers to boost production at their plants. One defendant committed suicide, while two others reached plea agreements. Those two workers testified they were doing what the company demanded when they went along with hiring illegal immigrants at Tyson's Shelbyville plant.