DENVER — A federal grand jury in Denver on Friday indicted two men for charges related to human trafficking.
This indictment was announced by the following agencies: the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado, 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.
One defendant, Kizzy Kalu, 47, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., was arrested without incident March 4. He appeared in U.S. District Court Thursday and was arraigned on the indictment. A U.S. magistrate judge ordered Kalu released on bond. However, that decision is being appealed by the government. A co-defendant, Philip Langerman, 77, of McDonough, Ga., has not yet been taken into custody.
According to the indictment, Kalu and Langerman were involved in a scheme making false representations to foreign nationals, to the State of Colorado, to the United States, and to others to obtain money under false and fraudulent pretenses and representations. One purpose of the scheme was to obtain the apparent lawful presence in the United States of foreign nationals who would supply labor to a business entity controlled by Kalu. After the foreign nationals' presence was obtained, Kalu used methods of coercion, including the threat of causing their deportation, to obtain their labor at various long-term care facilities in Colorado.
Langerman made representations that "Adam University," is located in Denver, Colo., and was a bona fide institution of higher education needing professional nursing instructors (nursing is considered a "specialty occupation" under U.S. immigration regulations). Adam University is alleged to have existed in name only. The foreign nationals were granted H-1B visas permitting them to be employed as nurse instructors/supervisors at Adam University.
The scheme allegedly involved Foreign Healthcare Professional Group (FHPG), a company operated by Kalu, which recruited foreign nationals to be employed by Adam University as teaching professionals and supervisors in the field of nursing. Kalu allegedly knew Adam University was an educational institution in name only.
FHPG made multiple materially false representations to the foreign nationals, including:
- that FHPG had a business relationship with Adam University in Denver in which FHPG recruited nursing instructors/supervisors who provided instruction at the university;
- that Adam University was a bona fide institution of higher education, and had a curriculum which included nursing education and a continuing education program in nursing;
- that FHPG had the authority to recruit and hire nurse instructors/supervisors on behalf of Adam University, and use the information they obtained from prospective students to petition the U.S. government on their behalf;
- and, that Kalu and FHPG had the authority to offer employment at Adam University to foreign nationals at a salary of between $68,000 and $72,000 annually.
In fact, Adam University was not an institution of higher education;
- it had no curriculum, no students and no professors or instructors;
- the foreign nationals would not be employed by the university but by FHPG at long-term healthcare facilities where FHPG paid for their labor;
- the foreign nationals would not work in the specialty occupations for which the petitions were made to the U.S. government by Adam University;
- and, the foreign nationals would not be paid the amount of money they were promised by the petitioner-employer.
The scheme involved foreign nationals who had been recruited by Kalu, arriving in Denver, Colo., and told there were no nurse instructor/supervisor positions at Adam University. Instead, they were directed to work in occupations which were not their specialty, as Langerman had represented to the United States. FHPG forced the nurses to work in long-term care facilities in Colorado. Kalu, acting as a representative of FHPG, contracted with a number of entities which operated and managed these facilities. FHPG contracted with these facilities to provide nurses – the foreign nationals recruited by Adam University. The employers paid FHPG to provide the foreign nationals as workers. FHPG paid them a rate amounting to about 65 percent of the amounts the employers paid to FHPG, and less than 50 percent of what had been promised them by Adam University.
The scheme involved FHPG and Kalu making payments to Adam University and Langerman. In some cases, Kalu terminated the contracts between the long-term care facilities and the FHPG nurses, but required the foreign nationals to continue to seek employment and pay FHPG a monthly fee. Kalu threatened to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of Adam University's withdrawal of the H-1B visas issued to some of the foreign nationals if they did not follow his directions, including working as staff nurses at the long-term care facilities.
The defendants face 132 counts of charges, including: commercial carrier/mail fraud, visa fraud, forced labor, attempted forced labor, trafficking in forced labor, money laundering, aiding and abetting, and criminal forfeiture. If convicted, the two face from 10 to 20 years in prison per count, and a fine of up to either $250,000 or $500,000 depending on the count.
"The victims of this crime were promised a life the defendants never intended to deliver," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado. "Defendants brought these foreign nationals to the U.S. under fraudulent pretenses, and then forced them to work and give away part of their wages. If they refused, defendants threatened them with deportation. The conduct in this case highlights the harm created by human trafficking and the importance of aggressive enforcement of federal laws against it."
"Homeland Security Investigations aggressively investigates human trafficking cases," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "However, to effectively identify and aid the victims and prosecute the traffickers, we must increase public awareness of this modern-day version of slavery." Holt oversees a four-state area, including Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
"This case represents the finest efforts of cooperative law enforcement," said Michael Bayer, special agent in charge of the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. "If criminal enterprises are enabled to manipulate the instruments of international travel for profitable gain, then we are all at risk on the national security level. The federal agencies, police and sheriff's departments involved, along with the United States Attorney's Office deserve high praise for protecting the victims of this crime and vigorously defending the interests and security of the United States of America."
"This indictment demonstrates the Office of the Inspector General's commitment to investigate allegations of visa fraud perpetrated against the Department of Labor's foreign labor certification programs. To that end, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of such programs," state David C. Wickersham, special agent in charge of the Dallas Regional Office for the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
This case was investigated by HSI, the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General's Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. Further critical support was provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brown and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lillian Alves, District of Colorado.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.