Two men indicted for human trafficking and other charges
DENVER – A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted two men for charges related to human trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General and ICE Homeland Security Investigations announced. One defendant, Kizzy Kalu, age 47, of Highlands Ranch, was arrested without incident on Sunday, March 4, 2012. He appeared in U.S. District Court Thursday morning and arraigned on the indictment. A U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered Kalu released on bond. That decision is being appealed by the government. A co-defendant, Philip Langerman, age 77, of McDonough, Georgia has not yet been taken into custody.
According to the indictment, Kalu and Langerman were involved in a scheme making false representations to foreign nationals, to the State of Colorado, to the United States of America, and others for the purpose of obtaining money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations. One purpose of the scheme was to obtain the apparent lawful presence in the U.S. of foreign nationals which would supply labor to a business entity controlled by Kalu. After the foreign nationals’ presence was obtained, Kalu used methods of coercion, including the threat of causing their deportation, to obtain their labor at various long-term care facilities in Colorado.
Langerman made and caused to be made representations that an educational institution by the name of Adam University, located in Denver, Colorado, was a bona fide institution of higher education, was in need of professional instructors with expertise in the area of nursing (which were considered “specialty occupations” under U.S. immigration regulations). Adam University is alleged to have existed in name only. The foreign nationals were granted H1B visas permitting them to be employed as nurse instructors/supervisors at Adam University.
The scheme allegedly involved Foreign Healthcare Professional Group (FHPG), a company operated by Kalu, recruiting foreign nationals to be employed by Adam University as teaching professionals and supervisors in the field of nursing. Kalu allegedly knew Adam University was an educational institution in name only, and was not in need of any instructors in nursing.
FHPG made multiple materially false representations to the foreign nationals, including: that FHPG had a business relationship with Adam University in Denver, in which FHPG would recruit nursing instructors/supervisors who would provide instruction at the University; that Adam University was a bona fide institution of higher education and had a curriculum which included nursing education and a continuing education program in nursing; that FHPG had the authority to recruit and hire nurse instructors/supervisors on behalf of Adam University, and use the information they obtained from prospective students to petition the United States government on their behalf; and that Kalu and FHPG had the authority to offer employment at Adam University to foreign nationals at a salary of between $68,000 and $72,000 annually.
In fact, among the falsehoods were that Adam University was not a institution of higher education, had no curriculum, no students and no professors or instructors; that the foreign nationals would not be employed by the University but by FHPG at long term healthcare facilities where FHPG would pay for their labor; that the foreign nationals would not work in the specialty occupations for which the petitions were made to the United States government by Adam University; and that the foreign nationals would not be paid the amount of money they were promised by the petitioner-employer.
The scheme involved foreign nationals who had been recruited by Kalu, arriving in Denver, Colorado, and being told there were no nurse instructor/supervisor positions at Adam University. Instead, they were directed to work in occupations which were not their specialty as had been represented to the U.S. by Langerman. FHPG forced the nurses to work in long-term care facilities in Colorado. Kalu, acting as a representative of FHPG, contracted with a number of entities which were in the business of operating and managing these facilities. FHPG contracted with these facilities to provide nurses – the foreign nationals recruited by Adam University. The employers would pay FHPG for providing the foreign nationals as workers. FHPG paid them a rate amounting to approximately 65 percent of the amounts the employers paid to FHPG and less than fifty percent of what had been promised them by Adam University.
The scheme involved FHPG and Kalu making payments to Adam University and Langerman. In some cases, Kalu terminated the contracts between the long-term care facilities and the FHPG nurses but required the foreign nationals to continue to seek employment and pay FHPG a monthly fee. Kalu threatened to give notice to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of Adam University’s withdrawal of the H-1B visas issued to some of the foreign nationals if they did not follow his directions, including working as staff nurses at the long-term care facilities.
The defendants face 132 counts of charges, including: commercial carrier/mail fraud, Visa fraud, forced labor, attempted forced labor, trafficking in forced labor, money laundering, aiding and abetting, and criminal forfeiture. If convicted the two face anywhere from a 10 to 20 years per count federal prison sentence, as well as a fine of up to either $250,000 or $500,000 depending on the count. “The victims of this crime were promised a life the defendants never intended to deliver,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Defendants brought these foreign nationals to the U.S. under fraudulent pretenses, and then forced them to work and give away part of their wages. If they refused, defendants threatened them with deportation. The conduct in this case highlights the harm created by human trafficking and the importance of aggressive enforcement of federal laws against it.”
“This case represents the finest efforts of cooperative law enforcement,” said Michael Bayer, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. “If criminal enterprises are enabled to manipulate the instruments of international travel for profitable gain, then we are all at risk on the national security level. The federal agencies, police, and sheriff’s departments involved, along with the United States Attorney’s Office deserve high praise for protecting the victims of this crime and vigorously defending the interests and security of the United States of America.”
“Homeland Security Investigations aggressively investigates human trafficking cases,” said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Denver. “However, to effectively identify and aid the victims and prosecute the traffickers, we must increase public awareness of this modern-day version of slavery.” Hold oversees a four-state area, including Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
“This indictment demonstrates the Office of the Inspector General’s commitment to investigate allegations of visa fraud perpetrated against the Department of Labor’s foreign labor certification programs. To that end, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of such programs,” state David C. Wickersham, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Regional Office for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
This case was investigated by the Department of State’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. Further critical support was provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Office of Fraud Detection and National Security and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brown and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lillian Alves.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.