DENVER — A Denver-area man was sentenced Tuesday to serve 10 years and eight months in federal prison after earlier being found guilty of mail fraud, visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering.
This case was investigated by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, 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.
After he serves his 130-month prison sentence, Kizzy Kalu, 49, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., was also ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger to serve three years on supervised release, and pay $3,790,338.55 in restitution to the victims of his crime. Kalu, who appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.
Kalu was first indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver March 1, 2012. After a 17-day jury trial, Kalu was found guilty of 89 counts of mail fraud, visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering July 1, 2013. He was found not guilty of six counts. The jury deliberated for about a day and a half before reaching its verdict.
Before trial, co-defendant, Philip Langerman, 78, of McDonough, Georgia, pleaded guilty for his role in the criminal scheme. Langerman was sentenced by Chief Judge Krieger to serve three years on probation. He was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $3,790,338.55 joint and several with Kalu. Langerman appeared at the hearing free on bond.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Kalu and Langerman were involved in a scheme by making false representations to foreign nationals, to the State of Colorado, to the United States of America, and to others for the purpose of obtaining 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 (which were considered "specialty occupations" under U.S. immigration law and regulations) and earn more than the prevailing wage so as not to undermine the wages of U.S. workers. 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 permitting them to be employed as nurse instructors/supervisors by the largely nonexistent Adam University. Rather than working in specialty occupations, the foreign nationals worked as nurses.
Kalu also made false representations to the foreign nationals, including that they would have full-time work available in Colorado. However, 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 health care facilities. However, Kalu demanded that the foreign nationals pay him between $800 to $1,200 a 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 in obtaining the visas. In addition, Kalu required the foreign nationals to sign employment contracts that provided they would owe Kalu $25,000 if they left his employment.
"Forced labor is a deplorable crime that is intolerable in a free society," commented Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels. "These defendants used fraud and deception to lure the victims into the United States, then used a scheme of debts and threats to hold the guest workers in fear. The Civil Rights Division commends the District of Colorado for bringing these traffickers to justice."
"One of the most important missions the U.S. Attorney's Office has is protecting the civil liberties and civil rights of individuals, including those who come here from other countries," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado. "The defendant brought people to the United States under false pretenses, made them work for little pay, and threaten to have them deported if they spoke up. This is classic human trafficking, and as today's sentence demonstrates, we are committed to stopping those who commit this serious federal crime."
"The sentencing in this case is indicative of the seriousness of these crimes and the degree that the Diplomatic Security Service is committed to fighting human trafficking and ensuring the integrity of our documents," said Daniel M. Childs, resident agent in charge, Denver Resident Office, Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of State. "This is a textbook case of large-scale fraud, exploiting workers who are seeking a better life. The tireless efforts of our partners have guaranteed a result that will punish and discourage these acts in Colorado and throughout the world."
"Mr. Kalu fraudulently enticed many foreign nurses to the United States with false promises of jobs," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "Then, after threatening them with deportation, he coerced money from them on a monthly basis. Homeland Security Investigations, with our law enforcement partners, aggressively investigates and pursues prosecution against modern-day slavery criminals like Mr. Kalu. For the desperation he has caused to so many people, he deserves every day of the prison sentence he was awarded."
"Today's sentencing highlights our efforts to investigate fraud against the Department of Labor's foreign labor certification program. The defendant devised a scheme to falsify labor certification applications and illegally obtain H-1B visas for foreign nationals, whose earnings he then stole for personal gain. The Office of Inspector General and its law enforcement partners remain committed to investigating these types of crimes," said David C. Wickersham, special agent-in-charge for the Dallas Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General's Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
Kalu was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brown and ICE Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Gibson.