DENVER – A federal jury convicted a Denver-area man Monday of 89 counts of mail fraud, visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced.
After a four-week trial, the jury deliberated for about a day and a half before reaching its verdicts. Kizzy Kalu, 49, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., who was in custody during the trial, was remanded into custody after the verdicts were read. Kalu was found not guilty of six counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger Sept. 23.
Prior to trial, co-defendant, Philip Langerman, 78, of McDonough, Ga., pleaded guilty for his role in the criminal scheme. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Langerman.
Kalu was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver March 1, 2012. A superseding indictment was obtained Feb. 12, 2013. The jury trial started June 3. Kalu was found guilty July 1 of 89 of 95 counts.
This case was investigated by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. Further critical support was provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Kalu and Langerman were involved in a scheme making false representations to foreign nationals to the State of Colorado, to the United States of America, and to others to obtain money. Kalu and Langerman provided false information to the U.S. government to obtain the apparent lawful presence in the U.S. of foreign nationals. The foreign nationals then worked for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Those facilities paid Kalu’s company, Foreign Healthcare Professionals Group, for the hours the foreign nationals worked. Kalu retained about 40 percent of the money earned from the labor of the foreign nationals.
Among the false information provided to the U.S. government was that the foreign nationals would be employed by Adam University as nurse instructor supervisors and earn more than the prevailing wage so as not to undermine the wages of U.S. workers. Nurse instructor supervisors were considered "specialty occupations" under U.S. immigration law and regulations. Adam University existed largely in name only and had no genuine need for nurse instructor supervisors. The foreign nationals were granted H-1B visas based on fraudulent representations, which permitted them to be employed as nurse instructors/supervisors by the largely nonexistent Adam University. Rather than working in specialty occupations, the foreign nationals instead worked as nurses earning below the prevailing wage.
Kalu also made false representations to the foreign nationals, including that they would have full-time work available in Colorado. Upon their arrival, they learned that they would have to interview for positions and would not be employed by Adam University in a clinical setting. Some were unable to find full-time work. Some learned that Kalu would not allow them to travel freely. Kalu threatened to cause their deportation if the foreign nationals did not provide him their labor and services. As Kalu’s scheme evolved, Kalu directed that the foreign nationals find work on their own and be paid directly by the healthcare facilities. However, Kalu demanded that the foreign nationals pay him between $800 to $1,200 per month or face deportation. Kalu threatened to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and have their visas canceled if they did not pay him the money he demanded. Kalu used debt to help keep the foreign nationals with him. Many had gone deeply into debt to pay him for assistance to obtain the visas. In addition, Kalu required that the foreign nationals sign employment contracts that provided they would owe Kalu $25,000 if they left his employment.
Kalu was convicted of the following charges:
- 19 counts of commercial carrier/mail fraud, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, per count;
- three counts of visa fraud, which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, per count;
- nine counts of trafficking in forced labor, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, per count;
- 13 counts of forced labor, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years per count;
- 15 counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the U.S., which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in prison, per count; and
- 30 counts of money laundering, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in prison per count.
Each of the 89 counts also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
"We don’t tolerate lying to the United States," said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, District of Colorado. "And we don’t tolerate victimizing laborers and cheating folks out of their hard-earned money. Today’s guilty verdict on 89 criminal counts confirms these simple truths, and it comes as a direct result of the determination and skill of the prosecution team and the talented agents from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations."
"Homeland Security Investigations aggressively investigates human trafficking, which is modern-day slavery," said Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI in Denver. "These human traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to obtain free or cheap labor from their victims so the traffickers can maximize their profits."
"Today’s verdict reflects Diplomatic Service’s commitment to aggressively protect U.S. borders and the integrity of our travel document and labor laws," said Michael Bayer, special agent in charge of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. "Diplomatic Security is committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DHS-HSI, and other Law Enforcement Agencies around the world to investigate allegations of Passport and visa fraud, trafficking in humans, forced labor and other associated offenses, and to bring those who commit these crimes to justice."
Kalu was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Gibson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brown.