WASHINGTON – A Bosnian Serb residing in North Carolina was sentenced to 18 months in prison today for his criminal conviction of obtaining a Permanent Resident Card (I-551), commonly referred to as a “green card,” by making materially false claims and statements on his initial application for immigration status, which served as the basis for obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with support from ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina and Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made the announcement.
Milan Trisic, 55, who was residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced by Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina. Trisic previously pleaded guilty on Dec.18, 2017, to possession of unlawfully obtained documents. Pursuant to an Order issued by Judge Coburn, upon completion of his term of imprisonment, Trisic will be transferred to ICE custody for removal to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"We will not allow the United States be a safe haven for those who commit atrocities abroad," said HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan. "HSI will continue to work closely with our international partners to relentlessly pursue such criminals and protect our nation’s legal immigration systems.”
“Those who wish to live in the United States ought to respect our laws, support our national security, and pursue residency legally and honestly. Anything less is inexcusable,” said Attorney General Sessions. “The Department of Justice will not hesitate to take action against criminals who seek to come here on the basis of fraud and take advantage of our generous immigration system. I want to thank our Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and DOJ attorneys for all of their hard work pursuing justice in this case.”
“Using lies and deceit, Trisic exploited our legal immigration system to enter our country and later to become a permanent resident,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “The sentence imposed by the Court is just punishment for Trisic’s blatant disregard for our nation’s immigration laws. My office is committed to protecting the integrity of our legal immigration process and prosecuting those who commit immigration fraud.”
According to the admissions made in connection with his plea, Trisic, an ethnic Serb with Bosnian citizenship, is a lawful permanent resident of the United States living in North Carolina. On Nov. 3, 2016, Trisic possessed a green card that was unlawfully obtained. In response to questions on his legal permanent resident application, Trisic knowingly concealed his military service in the Bratunac Brigade, a unit in the Army of the Serb Republic; concealed his criminal activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and lied about his whereabouts during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early and mid-1990s.
As part of his plea of guilty, Trisic admitted that he served in the Army of the Serb Republic as a member of the Bratunac Brigade during various tours of duty between April 1992 and January 1996, at a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the midst of a civil war. Due to its proximity to Serbia, forces both aligned with and from Serbia began a violent ethnic expulsion campaign in 1992 against the non-Serbian population in and around Bratunac. Trisic admitted that he engaged in various unlawful activities while serving with the Bratunac Brigade, such as the unlawful beating, detention and transportation of Muslim prisoners. Additionally, Trisic admitted that the Bratunac Brigade, operating primarily in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, was one of the military units responsible for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre that resulted in the deaths of between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men.
Trisic also admitted that he knowingly lied about his whereabouts during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to obtain immigration status, Trisic falsely claimed that he resided in Serbia during the war, when in fact he actually resided in Bratunac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he served as part of the Bratunac Brigade. Trisic later used his illegally obtained status to unlawfully obtain permanent resident status in the United States.
Trial Attorneys Frank G. Rangoussis and Ann Marie E. Ursini of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Smith of the Western District of North Carolina are prosecuting the case.
The HRVWCC was established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 395 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 835 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 112 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 130 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 74,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 234 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.