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Press Release

Naturalized U.S. Citizen From Bosnia Guilty Of Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Charged with having obtained citizenship by telling a series of lies in naturalization process, Defendant admits that he intentionally failed to disclose murder charges during 1990’s Bosnian Conflict

           GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Alexander KNEGINICH, 57, of Crown Point, Indiana, was convicted on August 18, 2017, of having fraudulently obtained his U.S. citizenship by falsely denying, during the immigration and naturalization process, that he had ever been charged with or jailed for a crime. During a guilty-plea hearing conducted earlier in August, KNEGINICH admitted under oath that he had repeatedly claimed never to have been charged with a crime or held in custody, when in fact he had been charged with the 1994 murders of two Muslim civilians – a husband and wife – while serving in a Serbian militia unit during the 1990’s Bosnian conflict. Those charges remain pending in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is actively seeking KNEGINICH’s extradition for trial. KNEGINICH told these lies to U.S. immigration authorities in the course of obtaining authority to enter the United States as a refugee, subsequently obtaining permanentresident status, and ultimately obtaining U.S. citizenship in January 2007 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

          “Mr. Kneginich never rightly secured the blessings and freedom of citizenship and lawful status in this great country of ours,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge. “He snuck into this country by fleeing charges that he is a murderer. For his deceit, he faces the irony of up to ten years behind locked, iron doors before the process for sending him back even begins.”

          “The United States will never be a safe haven for those seeking to distance themselves from their past,” said Special-Agent-in-Charge Steve Francis, Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit Field Office (HSI). “This conviction now paves the way for Mr. Kneginich's ultimate removal from the United States.”

          KNEGINICH’s sentencing is scheduled for November 14, 2017, in front of U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff. KNEGINICH faces up to ten years in federal prison; in addition, revocation of his U.S. citizenship is mandated by Federal law based on the conviction. KNEGINICH also faces eventual deportation and/or extradition back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where murder charges remain pending. KNEGINICH remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service pending his sentencing.

          The case is being jointly prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jamie Perry, of the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Michigan. The case was investigated by HSI’s Grand Rapids Office, assisted by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

END

Updated August 23, 2017