News and Press Releases

Final Defendant Sentenced In Illegal Worker Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2011

Alexander Litt sentenced to 56 months for harboring illegal aliens for commercial gain

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ The sixth and final defendant has been sentenced in federal court to 56 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release, on his conviction of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for commercial gain and money laundering conspiracy, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of cash and property to the United States.

United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry imposed the sentence today on Alexander Litt, 47.

According to information presented to the court, Litt, through his company, ARRA Corporation, of Cincinnati, Ohio, conspired to furnish out‑of‑status alien employees to various hotels in the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh areas as housekeeping personnel between 1998 and 2006.  Litt, along with a co‑conspirator, received a kickback of $1.50 per hour per employee for hours worked.  Agents estimate that over 100 such out‑of‑status aliens were employed in the Pittsburgh area alone by the Pittsburgh franchise of the company, Citiwide Management Group (CMG) and that, during peak season, the aliens worked up to 20 hours per day.  While working for CMG, the aliens, typically from former Soviet countries, were forced to live together in rented housing chosen by CMG, for which they were required to pay the rent. The aliens were transported to and from the hotels in a company van, for which they paid a transportation fee.

"This case involved a multi‑state money laundering and alien harboring conspiracy, whereby individuals in the Greater Pittsburgh area conspired with other defendants in Ohio to own and operate employee leasing companies through which more than 100 out‑of‑status alien employees were contracted to their client businesses, primarily as hotel and restaurant workers," said U.S. Attorney Hickton. "The significance of this case lies in the fact that the recruitment and exploitation of cheap alien labor occurs daily around the country. Although investigations of this type are labor intensive, it is incumbent upon us to identify and prosecute those who violate federal civil rights, immigration and tax laws."

"This investigation is a terrific example of how law enforcement works together, utilizing our combined authorities and resources, to take down a criminal organization that went to great lengths to not only disguise the employment, but the harboring of illegal aliens, in order to make a buck," said John P. Kelleghan, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Homeland Security Investigations office. "Today's sentencing should send a clear message that those who choose to utilize or harbor a workforce, comprised of illegal aliens, will be held accountable for their actions."

"Employment tax evasion is not only a serious crime, but can also impact the individual taxpayer and employee, who may see future benefits such as Social Security, Medicare or Unemployment Compensation reduced or eliminated," said Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation Pittsburgh Field Office. "With the recent tax filing season now in the books, this successful prosecution is a timely reminder how serious Federal Law Enforcement and the Courts are when it comes to tax related violations of the law."

Five other defendants pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and have already been sentenced.  Yaroslav Rochniak, a/k/a Slava, a/k/a Jerry, 53, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced on March 3, 2011, to 51 months in prison followed by three years supervised release; Roman Kucher, 41, of Lakewood, Ohio, was sentenced on April 8, 2010, to 33 months in prison followed by three years supervised release; Roman Kucher's father, Gregory Kucher, 64, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced on Nov. 18, 2010, to 51 months in prison followed by two years supervised release; Yakov Shakhanov, 73, of Delray Beach, Fla., was sentenced on March 25, 2011, to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release; and Alexander Litt's uncle, Roman Litt, 66, of Staten Island, N.Y., was sentenced on March 1, 2011, to 56 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Prior to imposing the sentence, Judge McVerry stated that it was hard to imagine how Litt, himself an immigrant, could have involved himself in this scheme, and that "the aliens lived in undesirable, sometimes deplorable conditions, and Litt did nothing to improve those conditions."

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

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Internal Revenue Service‑Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of this case.

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