- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

A labor economist with the D.C. Department of Employment Services received gifts, including hockey tickets and a watch, in exchange for approving false alien-labor certifications at the request of two D.C. lawyers charged with immigration fraud, federal prosecutors said last week.

John Walter Sliva, 57, of Arlington, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit immigration fraud in the District, Maryland and Virginia, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland said.

According to court documents, Sliva expedited the processing period for documents filed by the law firms of Irwin Jay Fredman and Sergei Danilov. They have been accused of filing more than 100 fraudulent employment applications on behalf of aliens with the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) and similar state agencies are responsible for reviewing labor applications for completeness before forwarding them on to regional offices of the U.S. Labor Department.

“The government employees who process these applications are responsible for making sure they comply with the law,” said Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for Maryland’s Northern Division. “It’s a lot easier to commit fraud if employees are willing to commit fraud and line their own pockets, which is what happened here.”

Prosecutors said certifications filed with DOES usually are not given final approval until more than two years after they are submitted.

However, Sliva admitted that he personally went to the law firms to pick up the forms and then either processed them out of turn or fraudulently backdated them, sometimes by as much as three years.

For example, prosecutors said, Sliva received an application for an alien named Ugur Sunel on March 23, 2004, but backdated the date of receipt to March 22, 2001.

“He was putting them to the front of the line, and he was approving them even though they should not have been approved,” Mr. Rosenstein said.

When labor officials questioned the receipt dates, officials said Sliva deflected the scrutiny by saying his poor penmanship made the dates hard to read.

In exchange for his services, prosecutors said Mr. Danilov gave Sliva free dinners and gifts that included the tickets, a watch, clothing, a Mont Blanc pen and a wallet containing $100 in cash.

Eugene Irvin, DOES general counsel, said the agency had no official comment on the case, but that “the matter certainly is going to be fully looked into.”

Sliva faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced May 5.

Fredman, 73, of Bethesda, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit immigration fraud. A date has not been set for his sentencing.

Mr. Danilov’s case is expected to go to trial, but no official date has been scheduled.

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