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Peregrine Falcon Case Leads To Larger Illegal Alien Coverup Case on Girard Point Bridge

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Three men have been indicted on charges they conspired and made false claims in an attempt to hide the employment of illegal aliens working on the Girard Point Bridge.

The case came to light amid charges that workers had disturbed the nesting area of protected peregrine falcons on the bridge.

The grand jury alleges that workers on the bridge performed some of their work in a restricted area -- restricted because of the presence of the peregrine falcon nests -- and the falcons, frightened by the work, left, leaving behind an egg that did not hatch.

During an investigation of that offense, the defendants allegedly conspired, persuading another worker who was not involved to take the hit.

"One of the people who was actually involved was an illegal alien," says federal prosecutor Paul Shapiro, "and the fear was if they sent him to be interviewed, his presence and the presence of other aliens would become known.  So this was truly a cover-up of the existence of the illegal aliens on the bridge."

Shapiro says the innocent worker persuaded to take the blame for disturbing the nest has not been charged.

The three defendants, two from Ohio and the third from Princeton, NJ, have pleaded or are expected to plead not guilty.


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