Executives arrested on labor trafficking charges released on bail; attorney calls allegations ‘outrageous’

BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC4) — The three executive officers of the landscaping company Rubicon Contractors LLC accused of aggravated labor trafficking were released on bail Wednesday and allowed to continue running their company.

The three executives, Tyler Brinkman, 57, Clayton Phillipps, 49, and Adam Perea, 35, face seven charges of aggravated human trafficking, a first-degree felony. They have all been released on bail with Brinkman and Phillips’ bail set at $50,000 and Perea’s a $1,000 unsecured bond.

The company released a statement saying it was “shocked by the arrests and charges” and has counseled with legal advisors “to ensure compliance with federal labor laws” since it began its H-2B visa work program.

The arrests came after a six-month investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office. The investigation started after the National Trafficking Hotline received a confidential tip, according to court documents.

Documents say investigators interviewed seven alleged victims who claimed they were recruited from Mexico and promised a guaranteed 40-hour work week, pay from $17 to $20 per hour, and help getting a VISA to work in the country.

The victims said they would at times go as long as months without work or would not be paid for their work for “not completing the job on time.” In addition, they said they were paid through a “virtual bank” they could access but not control.

One employee even claimed he was forced to work a 24-hour shift with only a one-hour break.

Rubicon’s attorney Skye Lazaro called the allegations “outrageous and inflammatory” saying the company believes they will all be exonerated.

“We are relieved the executives have been released and will be able to lead the company during this important time of the year,” Lazaro said. “This will allow more than 200 employees to continue to earn a living while providing critical services to hundreds of companies.”

The executives will be allowed to run the company with the stipulations that they do not contact the alleged victims or any H-2B visa workers, only use electronic contact with co-defendents and do no speak about the details of the case with employees.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to ABC4 Utah.