CLEVELAND — An Ohio man pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying on his immigration documents by failing to disclose his role in the ethnically motivated murder of a Croatian couple during the war in the former Yugoslavia. The plea comes after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWC).
Slobodan Mutic, 52, of Barberton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and willingly possessing a former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Form I-94, knowing it to be forged, counterfeited, altered, falsely made or to be have been procured by means of a false claim or statement.
"This nation is a haven for refugees, not human rights criminals,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This defendant lied his way into this nation and he will be punished. And we also hope that he is held to account for any of his actions once he is returned to his home country to face justice."
Mutic possessed a Form I-94 in 2012 that he fraudulently procured. Mutic, on or about August 2001,falsely claimed “no” when filling out immigration forms that asked if he had ever “been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, fined or imprisoned for breaking any law or ordinance…” and again when asked if he had “ever engaged in any genocide, otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality ethnic origin or political opinion,” according to court documents.
Those answers were false. Mutic was arrested, detained for a month and questioned by local law enforcement about the murder of Stjepan and Paula Cindric. The answers also contradicted statements he made during a January 8, 1992, interview that were memorialized in an affidavit that Mutic signed, according to court documents.
In that affidavit, Mutic admitted to his participation in the murder of the Cindric family along with accomplice Dragan Perencevic. Mutic and Perencevic targeted the Cindrics because of their ethnicity, according to court documents.
Mutic is scheduled to be sentenced January 6, 2016. He will be subject to stipulated removal from the United States to Croatia upon completion of his sentence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karrie Howard and Matthew J. Cronin following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 296 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 740 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations has more than 140 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,800 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries.
Over the last four years, ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 67,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 111 countries and stopped 161 human rights violators or war crime suspects from entering the United States.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete ICE’s online tip form.