A Billings business owner has been sentenced to three years of probation after admitting that he falsified immigration documents to allow foreign workers to stay in the states in exchange for a cut of their hourly paychecks.
John Carl Rogge, 46, owner of LBR Management and Northwest Placement LLC companies that recruit international workers for companies, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters to the probation and a $10,000 fine on Wednesday in federal court.
Prosecutors were asking for 10 to 16 month prison time, while Rogge asked for probation only. In May Rogge pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false statement on an immigration document.
In 2015, two Filipino men entered the U.S. legally and worked on H-2B visas for a restaurant in Sidney. H-2B visas are often used in seasonal or tourist-heavy areas. When their visas were close to expiring the two men were referred to Rogge in Billings.
Rogge then helped both men apply to have their visas converted into tourist visas under the B-2 visas program. The B-2 program does not permit visa holders to work.
Under Rogge’s instruction the men purchased flights back to the Philippines and copied flight receipts with their applications before canceling the flights. The receipts were used to trick visa officials into approving the visa petitions, according to filings by the U.S. Attorney for Montana’s office.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services approved both applications in the spring of 2016.
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Then Rogge charged for the service by taking $2 an hour from the men’s paychecks, according to the charging documents. It’s unclear how long Rogge skimmed the $2 from the men’s pay or what the men’s hourly rate was.
Prosecuting attorney Zeno Baucus said Rogge did not dock the worker’s pay out of financial need, but instead was motivated out of greed.
The defense argued that by providing falsified visas and allowing the workers to continue working in the U.S. they would make exponentially more money than they would in their home countries — and would allow the workers to send money back to their families.
In an emotional statement, Rogge said greed was not a factor in the crime and that he had a track record of giving back to the community.
He said he charged the fee because he thought that’s how he should run a business.
“I thought I was helping people,” he said.