Compiled By Jill Jusko Tyson Foods Inc. said it will "vigorously defend" its business, workforce and reputation against charges it conspired to smuggle illegal aliens to Tyson Foods processing facilities in the U.S. for profit. The 36-count indictment against corporate executives and managers of the Springdale, Ark., poultry processor was unsealed Dec. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. In a written statement, Ken Kimbro, Tyson Foods senior vice president of human resources, called the claim of a corporate conspiracy "absolutely false." "In reality, the specific charges are limited to a few managers who were acting outside of company policy at five of our 57 poultry processing plants," he stated. Four of those managers were terminated and two others are on administrative leave as a result of Tyson's own internal investigation, Kimbro said. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the 36-count indictment is a result of a 2.5-year undercover investigation conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Fifteen plants in nine states are implicated in the conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens from the southwest border of the U.S. In addition to charging the corporation, the indictment includes Robert Hash, vice president, Retail Fresh Div., and Gerald Lankford, former human resources manager, Retail Fresh Div., as well as four former managers. According to the indictment, Tyson Foods cultivated a corporate culture that condoned the hiring of illegal aliens to meet production goals and cut costs.