The owner of a Billings company that connects businesses with foreign workers has admitted to falsifying immigration documents for clients in exchange for a cut of their hourly paychecks.
John Carl Rogge, owner of LBR Management LLC and Northwest Placement USA LLC, deducted $2 an hour from the weekly paychecks of two clients who had come to him for help as their temporary work visas were about to expire.
LBR Management markets itself as a go-between for hotels, restaurants, and resorts seeking temporary workers. The company recruits, interviews, and arranges travel for the workers, according to its website.
It also shepherds workers through the visa process — a plus for the businesses hiring them, the company says.
“Leave the headache of getting H-2B extensions and renewal paperwork to us,” the LBR Management website reads.
Both of the clients in the case for which Rogge was charged entered the U.S. legally on H-2B visas. Those visas are for non-agricultural labor and are often used in seasonal, tourism-heavy areas like Yellowstone National Park.
The two men worked restaurant jobs in Sidney before being referred to Rogge in Billings as their work visas were reaching their expiration dates.
In late 2015, Rogge helped both men apply to have their H-2B work visas converted into visas for tourists under the B-2 visa program, which does not permit visa holders to work.
Rogge had both men purchase flights back to the Philippines and attach a copy of the receipt with their applications, before canceling the flights.
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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved both applications in the spring of 2016.
Rogge charged for his services by taking $2 an hour from the men's paychecks, according to filings by the U.S. Attorney for Montana’s office.
The prosecutors’ filings did not specify how much the men were being paid before Rogge’s fees were subtracted, or for how long he subtracted pay.
Also unclear was whether prosecutors charged the restaurant workers with a crime, or instead treated them as victims.
Rogge pleaded guilty in May to two counts of making a false statement on an immigration document. Both counts carry up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
The case is set for sentencing in November.
Rogge did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
In addition to running the two job placement companies, Rogge serves as the boys' tennis coach at West High School. Superintendent Greg Upham said Friday the district was unaware of the case but would open an internal investigation, adding that district practice was not to employ anyone convicted of a felony.