‘Trump Is Coming to Town’: Westminster Man Allegedly Threatens Latino Worker Who Filed Claim for Back Wages
A Westminster man is facing criminal charges after allegedly threatening a former employee who filed a claim when he did not receive compensation for a construction project, officials announced Tuesday.
James Balsamo, 53, was charged with witness intimidation and sending harassing electronic communications, according to L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.
The man allegedly hired the victim in 2017 for six days of construction work.
Balsamo, who was operating under the business Tru Way Construction, did not pay him after the job, the City Attorney’s Office said.
The worker, whom officials only identified as a Latino day laborer, subsequently filed a claim with the state Department of Industrial Relations and was awarded $4,917 in back wages and penalties, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
When Balsamo learned of the victim’s claim, he threatened him through multiple text messages, officials said. Balsamo allegedly said he’d have the worker arrested and deported.
“Trump is coming to town,” one message read, according to authorities.
Balsamo pleaded not guilty, City Attorney Mike Feuer said. His pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 13, 2019.
The City Attorney’s Office announced the charges along with two other cases involving people accused of targeting immigrants.
In one case, a mother and daughter in Los Angeles are facing 17 charges in connection with an alleged illegal immigration consulting business that preyed on individuals seeking residency, asylum or other forms of legal status in the U.S.
The pair, 65-year-old Judith Gil and 36-year-old Minerva Gil, were accused of providing false legal advice in exchange for thousands of dollars.
They’re scheduled to appear in court on March 12.
The City Attorney’s Office also disclosed similar charges against 54-year-old Eddie Rivas Bonilla of Los Angeles, who has already been convicted for such acts in 2017. Bonilla violated the terms of his probation, officials said. He was set to be arraigned on Feb. 13.
Rigo Reyes of the county Office of Immigrant Affairs said officials have been hearing a lot of similar stories from immigrants.
“Now more than ever, people are very scared because they’re looking desperately for ways to legalize their status,” Reyes said at a news conference on Tuesday.
In a statement, California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su described threats against low-wage workers as particularly egregious, denouncing “unscrupulous employers” who take advantage of a vulnerable workforce.
Feuer said such conduct would not be tolerated in Los Angeles.
“Immigrants have never been under so many threats and there is so much anxiety in our community—the very anxiety that those who would prey on them are seeking to take advantage of,” Feuer said.