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Area horse farm harbored illegal workers, feds say

Profile image for By Dianna Hunt
By Dianna Hunt

An Argyle horse farm is under federal investigation for allegedly using undocumented workers who reportedly were paid substandard wages and were not allowed to leave the property unsupervised, according to court documents.

Fossil Gate Farm, described as a multimillion-dollar horse farm operated by Gary and Linda Gordon in Argyle, had six undocumented workers living and working at the farm as recently as September, according to court records.

The federal government is seeking forfeiture of $6,091 in cash seized in September, saying it was derived from illegal activities at the farm, according to the records.

“Gary and Linda [Gordon] are aware of the illegal status of their alien workers, take measures to keep them on Fossil Gate property to conceal the fact that they are employing and harboring aliens, and employ an unauthorized alien worker to oversee the other alien workers,” according to the court documents. “Fossil Gate benefits financially by paying alien workers less wages while avoiding taxes and insurance as required by law.”

The court papers say the money seized was “derived from and traceable to criminal activities.”

Attorney Ken Carroll of Dallas, who is representing the Gordons, said they could not comment at this point about the federal allegations.

“Gary and Linda Gordon are respectful and care deeply about the well-being of workers at Fossil Gate Farms,” Carroll said in a written statement. “From the start, the ranch has been both a family passion and a larger team operation. The reputation that Fossil Gate Farms has earned in the horse community and in North Texas is a reflection of the commitment and hard work of everyone on that team.

“The Gordons cannot comment in detail about the federal complaint beyond saying that they will respond to the allegations at the appropriate time,” he said in the statement.

The farm’s website describes it as being home to American Quarter Horse Association and American Paint Horse Association world champion stallions, mostly in halter classes. The website says about 100 horses are maintained on the farm’s 150 acres, and it promotes the farm’s high-tech breeding program.

Gary Gordon is described on the website as a national director of the American Paint Horse Association and a member of the APHA’s judge’s committee. The APHA website lists both Gary and Linda Gordon as members of the organization’s board of directors for 2013.

The farm website notes that Gary Gordon was raised on a cattle and horse ranch in Canada, and that Linda Gordon is a native Texan who has been active with the Texas Paint Horse Club.

According to the documents filed Feb. 13 in federal district court in the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman, the Gordons harbored illegal workers beginning about January 1996 and continuing until Sept. 23, the same day the cash was seized by the federal government.

The court filings say the couple brought the undocumented workers to the U.S. to work at Fossil Gate.

The workers lived in a mobile home on the property, were not allowed to leave the property without supervision and did not have their own transportation, according to the documents.

The undocumented workers were paid an average $3.47 an hour and were required to work 12 hours per day, six days a week, according to the documents. They were paid $1,000 in cash per month and their wages were not reported to the Texas Workforce Commission, according to the filings.

The Gordons avoided paying an estimated $31,068 per undocumented worker by not paying Social Security, Medicare, state and federal unemployment taxes, workers compensation insurance and health insurance, according to the documents.

Steve M. Williams, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, filed a sworn statement with the court stating that the facts contained in the documents were accurate and included details from his investigation of the case.

Davilyn Walston, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Texas, declined to comment on the case because it is under investigation.

DIANNA HUNT can be reached at 940-688-6884 and on Twitter at @DiannaHunt.