NEWS: US: Russian charged with bringing in illegal immigrants

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Subject: NEWS: US: Russian charged with bringing in illegal immigrants
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.org)
Date: Thu Jun 03 1999 - 19:09:32 EDT


Russian charged with bringing in illegal immigrants
June 3, 1999

   DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- A Russian national is charged with bringing
illegal immigrants to the Quad Cities to work in his contract cleaning
business.

   Igor Voyitenko is charged with bringing the four men to Moline, Ill.,
putting them in a cramped apartment and hiring them to work for his
contract cleaning business.

   If convicted on the three federal charges he faces in a federal trial in
Davenport later this month, Voyitenko could serve a prison term and be sent
back to Russia.

   Gerald Noland, a special agent with the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service, investigated the case and contends that Voyitenko's
operation amounted to little more than ``indentured servitude'' -- when
immigrants work long hours at menial jobs to pay off their sizable
transportation costs.

   He said the men lived in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment in Moline, where
the electricity was shut off for weeks at a time, and the men slept on
mattresses spread across the floor. Noland alleges that Voyitenko did not
always pay the Russians for their work, leaving them with no money for
necessities.

   ``It was basically a flophouse situation,'' Noland said. He said the
four Russian workers are scheduled to return to their homeland later this
week after giving interviews to prosecutors.

   Noland said INS cases involving immigrants from former Soviet republics
are on the rise in Iowa. There were no such cases last year, but Noland
said as many as 20 have been handled in the state this year -- a trend that
is inversely proportional to the sharp decline of the Russian economy.

   The four men are Mikhail Sidorenko, Serguei Snguirev, Serguei
Goloubev-Gennadyevich and Valentine Kaljanov.

   Investigators said they began unraveling the story following a routine
February public intoxication arrest in Bettendorf.

   Goloubev, an ``out of status alien,'' was arrested and eventually turned
over to the INS on Feb. 13. According to a court affidavit by Noland,
Goloubev told agents he worked for IVA Cleaning, a business based in
Pacific, Mo., and owned by Voyitenko.

   Goloubev said he was assigned by Voyitenko to clean the Jewel Osco Store
on Locust Street in Davenport. Jewel Osco was under no obligation to
determine the status of subcontractor employees, Noland said.

   Goloubev then led agents to the apartment in Moline, leased, allegedly,
by Voyitenko. When Noland and another INS agent went to the apartment on
March 11 to retrieve Goloubev's passport, they found Sidorenko, Snguirev
and Kaljanov living there. Each said they worked for Voyitenko, who, they
claimed, paid them $5.50 per hour to $40 per day for janitorial work.

   In later interviews with the four Russians, they said that an associate
of Voyitenko met three of them at a New York City airport and met another
in Chicago. They were each escorted to St. Louis and eventually transferred
to Moline by Voyitenko, according to the affidavit.

   Armed with a federal indictment, INS agents tracked down Voyitenko in
St. Louis on April 27 and arrested him. Prosecutors also arrested the four
Russians as material witnesses.

   Voyitenko, who pleaded innocent to all charges, is still being held in
the Muscatine County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

   Financial information forms filled out by the four Russians tell of
tough economic conditions back home. Goloubev, who has a 3-year-old child,
earned $80 per month in Russia -- a sum he could earn in two days working
for IVA, when he was paid.

   Kaljanov left three children behind and a wife who earned $50 per month.
Sidorenko and Snguirev each have two children in Russia and earned meager
wages.

   Voyitenko's trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 21 in Davenport. If a
plea agreement is reached in the case it would be filed by June 16.


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