Published: September 24, 2013
This past July, Kizzy Kalu, a naturalized U.S. citizen and resident of Colorado, was convicted by a federal jury of orchestrating and carrying out a scheme to use the H-1B work visa process to petition dozens of registered nurses for positions in the U.S. that did not exist, and for exploiting and blackmailing them with threats of deportation after their arrival. After a 4 week trial, a federal jury issued a guilty verdict against Kalu on 89 counts of mail fraud, visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering. Kalu’s sentencing hearing commenced this week, and is scheduled to be completed in December. Kalu has remained in federal custody throughout the pendency of proceedings, and will likely face a prison term of at least 10 years.
Prior to trial, Kalu’s 78 year old co-defendant, Philip Langerman, of Georgia, pled guilty for his role in the scheme, although a sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
Back in March, 2012, Kalu was indicted by a federal grand jury on 100+ criminal counts. Kalu was found guilty of a vast majority of these counts.
According to evidence presented at trial, Kalu and Langerman were involved in a scheme of making false representations to foreign nationals and to the U.S. government – including the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State – in support of H-1B work visa filings to facilitate the entry of foreign nurses, mainly from the Philippines, and in keeping them under his control and employ once they arrived.
The misrepresentations included assertions that the petitioned nurses would be employed by Adam University in Denver as nurse instructors and supervisors and be paid an annual salary of $72,000.00, the “prevailing wage” U.S. workers earn in similar positions. What came out at trial was that Adam University was in reality a fiction, an entity that existed in name only and with no bona fide need for nurse instructors/supervisors. Based on these misrepresentations, the petitioned nurses were granted H-1B visas.
After arriving though, the nurses learned that Adam University was not a genuine institution, that no nurse instructor/supervisor positions existed, and that they would be parceled off to work as nurses in nursing homes across Colorado and for a wage far below what was promised. Further, the nurses actually were required to interview for these positions, report to Kalu regarding their day to day activities and whereabouts, and of course pay Kalu a cut (approximately $1,000 per month) of their already reduced salaries. In the end, the nurses earned approximately half of what was promised them and their refusal to comply with his demands were met with Kalu threatening to report the nurses as undocumented and facilitating their summary deportation.
Importantly, without Kalu’s misrepresentations relating to the nature of the position and petitioning organization, the visas would otherwise have never had a chance of getting issued, as H-1B work visas are generally not available for the vast majority of registered nurse positions, and especially for positions within nursing homes.
As a result of falling prey to his scheme and paying Kalu for facilitating visa issuance, the petitioned nurses and their overseas families accumulated extraordinary debt. Kalu used this debt, along with threats of deportation, as leverage to successfully continue to extort monthly payments from these nurses.
According to one of the federal prosecutors on the case, “we don’t tolerate victimizing laborers and cheating folks out of their hard-earned money…….. (and the) guilty verdict on 89 criminal counts confirms these simple truths, and it comes as a direct result of the determination and skill of the prosecution team and the talented agents from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.”
By the conclusion of the continued sentencing hearing in December, Kalu will learn of his fate.
PUBLISHED September 24, 2013 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2013, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois