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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
11/18/2010

Brooklyn man sentenced in Pittsburgh to 51 months for alien harboring scheme

PITTSBURGH - Gregory Kucher, 64, of Brooklyn, New York, has been sentenced in federal court in Pittsburgh to 51 months in prison to be followed by two years supervised release on his conviction of alien harboring, money laundering conspiracy, and tax evasion. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of cash and personal property. The investigation was led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According the court record, Kucher employed more than 100 out-of-status aliens to provide services to his client businesses in Western Pennsylvania. The term "out-of-status aliens" refers to individuals who may have lawfully entered the United States, but have either overstayed the terms of their visas or were not permitted to be employed while in the United States under the terms of their visas.

He transported his illegal alien employees between approximately 2002 and 2006 to and from client businesses in Western Pennsylvania for a fee. Kucher also laundered the profits generated through the wages of these workers. He also pleaded guilty to tax evasion, for failing to declare and pay taxes on the wages earned by the illegal workers contracted to various businesses in the Greater Pittsburgh area. The total tax loss was approximately $1.5 million.

"This is particularly troubling case because it demonstrates the vast underlying criminal activities that accompany the exploitation of illegal labor," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of the ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "HSI remains committed to investigating companies and their managers who commit crimes that exploit people and funnel illegal earnings into criminal enterprises. These crimes dramatically impact our economy and communities."

"Law abiding citizens expect the government to hold accountable those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with money, especially when that fraud represents stolen federal taxes," said Sybil Smith, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation Pittsburgh Field Office. "Mr. Kucher's sentence should serve as a warning that tough punishment awaits someone who may decide to embark on a similar fraudulent journey."

Assisting HSI in the investigation was Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor. Assistant United States Attorney Margaret E. Picking prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.