JULY 29, 2009
Dozens of illegal aliens convicted of serious felonies have been released in the U.S. because federal immigration authorities fell for a scheme in which a foreign diplomat blocked their deportations for cash.
The Armenian Consul in Los Angeles sold letters for up to $35,000 a piece to dozens of deportable criminals from his country that wanted to remain in the U.S. after serving their jail sentence. The letters were sent to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and said that the Armenian government could not verify that the criminal aliens were citizens and therefore could not let them into the country.
U.S. authorities accepted the letters as authentic correspondence from Armenia’s government and ICE released the violent illegal aliens since the agency can’t detain foreigners for more than a few months after their criminal prison sentence has been completed.
The Armenian nationals were in the U.S. illegally and served time for serious crimes such as murder, robbery and attempted murder. All purchased their fraudulent “letters of refusal” for tens of thousands of dollars from a southern California man (Norair Ghalumian) who served as Armenia’s consul in Los Angeles from 1999 through 2003.
Ghalumian and four others, including a separate Armenian Consulate employee and an immigration attorney, were arrested and charged this week for operating the letters of refusal scheme. Federal prosecutors say the group used contacts in the Armenian government to procure the official refusal letters on behalf of their clients.
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