BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) — Two local men were sentenced to serve several decades in prison for killing a whistleblower who revealed an illegal hiring scheme, according to the Southern District of Georgia.
Pablo Rangel-Rubio, 53, of Rincon was sentenced to 584 months. He previously pleaded guilty to charges including aiding and abetting the retaliation against a witness, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
It also sentenced Higinio Perez-Bravo, 52, of Savannah to 240 months. He previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder for hire, Estes said. Rangel-Rubio and Perez-Bravo must also each pay more than $1.3 million to the victim’s family.
“These sentences represent a measure of justice for Eliud Montoya, a brave man murdered by criminals protecting their lucrative and exploitative labor-trafficking enterprise,” Estes said. “Our law enforcement partners did outstanding work to identify and hold accountable those responsible for this brutal murder.”
Juan Rangel-Rubio, 45, of Rincon also faces a minimum life sentence on charges of conspiracy to retaliate against a witness and conspiracy to kill a witness, Estes said. He is awaiting sentencing.
The three men are all allegedly connected to Montoya’s death in August 2017, when he was found shot dead near his Garden City home. Montoya revealed the multi-million-dollar scheme of hiring and mistreating those living in the U.S. without legal permission.
Montoya claimed he saw colleagues being mistreated by Rangel-Rubio and complained to the tree service company and to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That’s when Rangel-Rubio arranged for Montoya’s murder by paying Perez-Bravo, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
According to Estes, Perez-Bravo was paid $20,000 to use his cars and as the getaway driver. Perez-Bravo worked at Wolf Tree with Montoya, a U.S. citizen, and Pablo Rangel-Rubio, a Mexican citizen living in Rincon illegally.
Rangel-Rubio routed paychecks to himself, not only profiting from the company but skimming pay from undocumented workers, Estes said. He netted more than $3.5 million along with his conspirators in the scheme.
“This sentence means that criminals like these defendants will not escape justice and will no longer be able to victimize anyone,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “We are thankful for the hard work done by all of the agencies involved in this case and hope that the verdict brings comfort to the victims and their families.”