Recruiters charged with labor and immigration fraud in New York

NEW YORK CITY — A federal court unsealed a six-count indictment, charging business owner Ralph Colamussi and Filipino labor recruiter, Roberto Villanueva, with conspiring to engage in visa fraud and forced labor of immigrants, including Filipinos, as well as other substantive counts of immigration fraud.

The indictment shows that between 2008 and 2013, Villanueva and Colamussi recruited workers in the Philippines for their restaurants, with false promises of jobs with overtime pay — as waiters, servers, cooks, chefs and food preparation.

The workers were illegally made to pay the defendants money to qualify for the visa interview in the US, and directed to conceal such payments.

Upon arrival, they were forced to work at lower than promised wages without overtime, to care for Colamussi’s relatives, and perform construction work.

Among the Filipinos victimized by the two was Luis Belvis.

“Pati pagpapala ng snow sa buong restaurant, ginagawa naming yan, tapos nagco-construction kami ng lahat, dapat server lang talaga. Pag hindi kayo ano, isumbong naming kayo sa immigration… oo lahat.”

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