Former Ringling Brothers acrobat turned promoter Kristo Ivanov called one of his acts "Kristo's Alien Show," which might be the same words prosecutors would use to describe the scheme that got him sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Prosecutors say that Ivanov, a naturalized citizen from Bulgaria living in Orlando, Florida, prepared visa applications for 870 aliens that falsely stated that they were circus performers coming to work in Florida circuses.
The aliens didn't come to this country because of their tumbling talents--they were doing domestic work and unskilled labor, prosecutors say.
Ivanov charged aliens from Romania, Russian, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine from $500 to $4,000 for his sponsorship in attaining visas, prosecutors say.
In addition to being sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, Ivanov had to turn over the $800,000 prosecutors say he earned in fees he charged the aliens.
Ivanov, as part of a plea bargain, assisted authorities in identifying the fraudulent applications. The Department of State and Department of Justice were also involved in the investigation and weren't clowning around.
"Businesses who sponsor foreign national under false pretenses should know they will be caught," says Special Agent Robert Weber of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Source: Justice Department