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Sheriff to look into Chateau Elan allegations

BRASELTON -- A CBS Atlanta report that the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office will launch an investigation into the employment of illegal immigrants at Chateau Elan is not entirely true, Sheriff Butch Conway said Wednesday afternoon.

A Tuesday night report from CBS Atlanta stated that Conway and his office would begin an investigation following the TV station's uncovering of documents showing illegal immigrants worked at the nationally renowned inn, golf course and spa.

"Investigation" may have been too strong a word.

"I can tell you that I will check into the allegations against Chateau Elan," Conway said, "and if I find that there has been something illegal done by Chateau Elan, I'll pass that on to (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."

"But that's the extent of it."

According to the television station, Chateau Elan has terminated its contract with H.S. Solutions Inc., the Suwanee staffing agency that allegedly supplied the resort with illegal employees.

Messages left with a Chateau Elan spokesperson were not returned Wednesday.

While it is the responsibility of Chateau Elan management to verify employees' legal work status, Conway said, potential federal charges would only come into play if the resort knowingly employed illegal immigrants.

"If they conspired with them (federal crimes were committed)," Conway said. "But that doesn't appear to be the case."

Either way, the extent of sheriff department involvement would be determining if there are any veracity to reports, then passing the information along to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Conway said.

"Our enforcement in terms of immigration starts and stops at the back door of the jail," he said.