News and Press Releases

New Yorker Pleads Guilty To Harboring Aliens, Money Laundering

August 24, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A resident of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday, August 23, 2010, to charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens, money laundering, and tax evasion, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today. The defendant also agreed to the forfeiture of cash, bank accounts, and business equipment to the United States.

Yaroslav Rochniak, a/k/a Slava, a/k/a Jerry, age 53, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to four counts before United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Rochniak was the President of Citiwide Management Group (Citiwide), the Pittsburgh subsidiary of a company which supplied housekeeping staff to Pittsburgh‑area hotels.  More than 100 of the employees provided were out‑of­status aliens who had initially entered the United States legally, but had either overstayed the term limits of their visas or were not authorized to work in the United States under the terms of their visas. Thus, they had illegally remained in the United States. Most of the aliens were citizens of former Soviet bloc countries.  Rochniak and his co‑conspirators made kickbacks of $1.50 per hour per employee to ARRA Corporation, the parent company in Cincinnati. Citiwide housed the employees in company‑leased apartments, often up to eight aliens, typically strangers, in a two-bedroom apartment.  They also transported the employees to and from the hotels, charging the aliens both rent and transportation fees.

The aliens' first two weeks' wages were retained by the company as a security deposit, which the company kept as a penalty if the employees did not work at least six months. Citiwide paid no overtime or benefits and failed to pay taxes on the employees' wages, resulting in a tax loss of $1.5 million.

In addition, the parent company maintained offices in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Rochniak was also in charge of the Cleveland branch of the company.

Judge McVerry scheduled sentencing for Dec. 28, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.  The law provides for a total sentence of between five and 20 years in prison per count, fines of between $250,000 and $500,000 per count, or both.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The Court advised Rochniak that because he is not a U.S. citizen, he could be deported.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Rochniak on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Margaret E. Picking is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service‑Criminal Investigation Division; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Yaroslav Rochniak.

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