A federal court judge on Monday rescheduled a hearing at which a Ventura County flower rancher charged with enslaving Mexican laborers is expected to plead guilty to corporate racketeering and to agree to pay $1.5 million in back wages to former workers.
U. S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall reset the Los Angeles hearing for April 27 for Edwin M. Ives after lawyers for Ives and nine co-defendants said they had not yet signed agreements with federal prosecutors and civil attorneys to settle the case.
"A lot of them are written, but they're not signed," Assistant U.S. Atty. Carol L. Gillam said.
In a plea bargain announced two weeks ago, prosecutors agreed to drop the extortion and slavery counts against Ives that brought the case international attention when it broke in 1990. The government also agreed to drop all charges against Ives' wife, Dolly.
Ives, 55, of Los Angeles, agreed to plead guilty to three felony and four misdemeanor immigration and wage violations and will face up to 18 years in prison, Gillam said. There is no minimum prison sentence, and Ives' attorneys said they will argue for probation.
Ives' farming corporation will admit to nine criminal counts, including racketeering and wire fraud, and pay at least $1.5 million to about 300 laborers who worked at the rancher's 50-acre compound near Camarillo in the 1980s.
Altogether, Ives, his corporation and eight other defendants have agreed to plead guilty to 26 felony and 24 misdemeanor counts, nearly all involving immigration and labor laws, prosecutors said.