USCG Ho Chi Minh: Former Visa Chief Faces Charges of Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud and Bribery

This is not the kind of news you want to end the week, but here it is.   The former NIV Chief of USCG Ho Chi Minh City  Michael T. Sestak is facing charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery.  McClatchy reports that the 42-year old FSO was arrested in Southern California about a week ago and held without bail. We have not been able to locate a copy of the unsealed complaint.  The promotion list published in indicates that Mr. Sestak was promoted from an FS-03 to FS-02 in 2011.

Via Michael Doyle of McClatchy News

In a previously undisclosed criminal complaint, Foreign Service officer Michael T. Sestak faces charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery in an alleged scheme that investigators say spanned several countries. In some cases, investigators say, desperate Vietnamese paid up to $70,000 each for visas granting legal entry to the United States.

The “co-conspirators” advertised that the charge would be between $50,000 and $70,000 per visa but also that they’d sometimes charge less, State Department investigator Simon Dinits said in an affidavit. “They also encouraged recruiters to raise the price and keep the amount they charged over the established rate as their own commission,” the affidavit said.

Investigators say the alleged conspiracy occurred while Sestak was handling non-immigrant visas in the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. Sestak served in the consulate until last September, when he left in preparation for active-duty service with the Navy. By then, investigators say, an informant had tipped them to the alleged visa scheme.
From May 1, 2012, to Sept. 6, investigators say, the consulate received 31,386 non-immigrant visa applications and rejected 35.1 percent of them. During the same period, Sestak handled 5,489 visa applications and rejected only 8.2 percent of them, according to investigators.
“This opportunity will only last for a few more months, and after that it’s over,” one alleged co-conspirator wrote in a July 5 email quoted by Dinits.

Continue reading, Foreign Service officer made millions in visa-for-money scam, feds charge

— DS