Colorado businessman found guilty of forcing foreign nurses to work in U.S. nursing homes
Kizzy Kalu, the Colorado businessman on trial for luring nurses to the U.S. under false pretenses, was found guilty Monday of trafficking in forced labor.
A jury found him guilty on all but six of 95 criminal counts after more than a day of deliberation. The charges included trafficking in forced labor, visa fraud and mail fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court in Denver, according to The Denver Post.
Enticed by Kalu's promise of $72,000 per year jobs at a nonexistent university, the 25 nurses, most of whom were from the Philippines, moved to the United States, but only after each paying Kalu $6,500 for a visa. Once stateside, Kalu informed them the university didn't exist and, instead, placed them in nursing homes to work.
The facilities paid Kalu's company, Foreign Health Care Professionals Group, the nurses' wages, most of which Kalu retained. In one instance, a facility paid $35 per hour for a nurse, and Kalu pocketed half the wage and paid the nurse $20 an hour, the Post reported.
When authorities eventually became interested in Kalu's company, the businessman and his partner altered their scheme. Instead of having the facilities pay their company, the nursing homes started paying the nurses directly.
But Kalu still demanded a cut of $1,200 per month from each nurse, threatening to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security to have visas retracted in the case of non-compliance. In fact, when one nurse stopped making payments, Kalu reported her to immigration officials and her visa was taken away. Others who refused to pay Kalu also subsequently had their visas taken away.
Kalu's partner, Philip Langerman, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and visa fraud. He faces up to five years in prison but does not have a sentencing date yet, according to the Post report.