Columbia Heights Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty To Visa Fraud And Harboring An Illegal Worker
United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker today announced the guilty plea of PISANU SUKHTIPYAROGE, a/k/a “Pat,” 71, owner of the Royal Orchid Restaurant, to one count of visa fraud and one count of alien harboring. SUKHTIPYAROGE entered his guilty plea earlier today before Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright in United States District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“Pisanu Sukhtipyaroge has pleaded guilty to visa fraud and alien harboring and will now face sentencing,” said Special Agent in Charge Tracy J. Cormier, of HSI St. Paul. “HSI is proud of the work we’ve accomplished with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office in this case and will continue to leverage our law enforcement partnerships to investigate and prosecute those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable in our communities.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, in July 2015, SUKHTIPYAROGE assisted in the procurement of an F-1 student visa for an individual identified as A.M., a citizen of the Dominican Republic whom the defendant met and befriended. At the time, SUKHTIPYAROGE was very familiar with the F-1 student visa process and knew that an F-1 student visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that does not permit employment in the United States. SUKHTIPYAROGE used false statements in preparing the visa application and instructed A.M. as to what he should and should not say during the visa interview.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, October 15, 2015, upon arrival in the United States, A.M. lived with the defendant and the defendant’s family in Maplewood and attended Edison High School until May 2016. At some point during this time, A.M. began living and working at the Royal Orchid Restaurant in Columbia Heights. At the restaurant, A.M. was subjected to poor living and working conditions. SUKHTIPYAROGE told A.M. he would be paid $500 per month in cash for his labor; however, A.M. did not receive the promised pay each month, as SUKHTIPYAROGE deducted the costs incurred in bringing A.M. to the United States. A.M. also worked at SUKHTIPYAROGE’S home in Maplewood without pay. SUKHTIPYAROGE admitted to engaging in a sexual relationship with A.M. shortly after he brought A.M. to the United States.
SUKHTIPYAROGE has also been charged in Anoka County with one felony count of third degree criminal sexual conduct and one felony count of labor trafficking.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
The District of Minnesota is one of six districts designated through a competitive, nationwide selection process as a Phase II Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam), through the interagency ACTeam Initiative of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor. ACTeams focus on developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion through interagency collaboration among federal prosecutors and federal investigative agencies.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda A. Williams and Laura M. Provinzino are prosecuting the case.
PISANU SUKHTIPYAROGE, a/k/a “Pat,” 71
- Visa fraud, 1 count
- Alien harboring, 1 count
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600