Thursday, March 18, 2010

Illegal Immigrants: U.S. - Uzbekistan national pleads guilty to running illegal alien racket

Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Uzbekistan national pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a criminal enterprise involving illegal aliens working in 14 states, including employees at hotels in the Kansas City, Mo., area and in Branson, Mo.

Jakhongir Kakhkharov, 30, a citizen of Uzbekistan, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith this afternoon to the charge contained in a Jan. 7, 2010, superseding indictment.

Kakhkharov admitted that, from July 2, 2007, to Jan. 2, 2008, he participated in a criminal enterprise that involved mail fraud, money laundering, inducing aliens to illegally enter the United States, and harboring illegal aliens.

The federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) indictment alleges an extensive and profitable criminal enterprise in which hundreds of illegal aliens were employed at hotels and other businesses across the country. The criminal enterprise allegedly used false information to acquire fraudulent work visas for these foreign nationals.

Kakhkharov acted as head of Midwest Management, Inc., a nominee entity established as part of the criminal enterprise in order to launder the illegal proceeds of the enterprise and to avoid paying taxes. Kakhkharov admitted that he was responsible for laundering a total of $634,192 in unlawful proceeds between July and December 2007. Kakhkharov also admitted that he used apartments in the Kansas City, Mo., area to house illegal aliens between July 2007 and January 2008.

Co-defendant Alexandru Frumusache, 24, a citizen of the Republic of Moldova residing in Kansas City, Kan., pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 2009, to forced labor trafficking. Between September 2008 and the end of April 2009, Frumusache aided and abetted others in a scheme to cause foreign workers (including citizens from the Phillippines, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica) to believe that they would be deported, or their H2B work visas would be cancelled, or they or their families members would be penalized with a $5,000 to $10,000 fee, if the foreign workers failed or refused to work where and when they were ordered to work.

Frumusache also admitted that he aided and abetted others in subjecting the foreign workers to terrible living conditions without food, furniture, or appropriate sleeping arrangements. They assigned more foreign workers than each living space allowed and the foreign workers were subjected to sleeping on the floor or mattresses. They utilized the housing arrangement as an additional way to profit off of the foreign workers by overcharging them in rent and automatically withdrawing the fees from the foreign workers’ pay checks.

Under federal statutes, Kakhkharov and Frumusache are each subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gene Porter, William L. Meiners and Cynthia L. Cordes and Trial Attorney Jim Felte with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Labor, OIG – Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Department of Revenue – Criminal Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Independence, Mo., Police Department in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

Source: United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

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