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Former mayor of Haiti accused of “horrific violence” arrested in Massachusetts



BOSTON – The former Mayor of Les Irois, Haiti was indicted today in Massachusetts for illegally obtaining a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a Green Card) by means of a false statement, specifically, that he had not ordered, carried out or materially assisted in extrajudicial and political killings and other acts of violence against the Haitian people.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 50-year-old Jean Morose Viliena was indicted on three counts of visa fraud and will appear in federal court in Boston today later today.

“The atrocities alleged here – the extrajudicial torture, murder and attempted murder of multiple people – are hard to comprehend. But the political corruption and violence endured in other parts of the world are very real. Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States are often fleeing war, persecution or natural disaster. That this defendant, a former Mayor in Haiti, is alleged to have personally committed or ordered the maiming, harm, humiliation or death of his adversaries and then blatantly deceived our country to seek refuge here is not only unacceptable, it is a crime. Moments ago, he was arrested and officially charged with visa fraud. We intend to hold him accountable for this crime,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Gaining lawful entry into our country is a privilege, not a right. Our nation offers protection, assistance and asylum to those who are persecuted. People that perpetrate acts of violence and harm — and then allegedly lie about their conduct to US immigration officials — in their countries are not welcome here.”

“Today’s indictment recounts horrific violence Viliena is alleged to have committed against the people of Haiti, both through armed groups he directed and by his own hand,” said Michael J. Krol, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England. “He’s alleged to have lied about this violent past, evading the consequences of his actions and beginning a life here in Massachusetts. With today’s indictment and arrest, Viliena is finally facing federal criminal charges for his lies.”

According to court documents, Viliena was the former mayor of Les Irois, Haiti from December 2006 until at least February 2010. As a candidate and as a Mayor, Viliena was backed by a political machine called Korega, which exerts power throughout the southwestern region of Haiti through armed violence. Viliena personally supervised his mayoral staff and security detail and led an armed group in Les Irois aligned with Korega. Under Viliena’s direct supervision, the Korega militia enforced Viliena’s policies by various means, including by targeting political opponents in Les Irois through armed violence.

According to the indictment, as Mayor, Viliena was involved in several instances of violence. The first allegedly occurred in or around July 27, 2007, when a witness spoke at a judicial proceeding in Les Irois on behalf of a neighbor who had been assaulted by Viliena. In reprisal for that testimony, that evening, Viliena allegedly led an armed group to that witness’ home, where Viliena and his associates shot and killed the witness’ younger brother, and then smashed his skull with a large rock before a crowd of bystanders.

The second incident allegedly occurred in or around March 2008, when a group of local journalists and activists founded a community radio station. According to court documents, Viliena opposed establishment of the radio station and, on April 8, 2008, mobilized members of his staff and the Korega militia to forcibly shut down the radio station and seize its broadcasting equipment. At that time, Viliena distributed firearms to the Korega militia members, some of whom also carried machetes, picks, and sledgehammers.

On the day of the attack on the radio station, Viliena allegedly pistol-whipped an individual with his gun and struck him with his fists. When the individual tried to flee, it is alleged that Viliena ordered one of his associates to shoot and kill him. Shots were fired which hit the individual in the leg. The individual spent several months in various hospitals and his leg was later amputated above his knee. Another individual, also a citizen of Haiti, became a target of Viliena allegedly because of his association with the radio station. It is alleged that on the day of the attack of the radio station, that individual was present and when he tried to flee, he was hit by a bullet in the face. He required months of intensive medical treatment, including two surgeries to extract shotgun pellets from his face, which left him permanently blind in one eye. According to court documents, pieces of shotgun pellets remain in the individual’s scalp and arms.

On June 3, 2008, Viliena presented himself at the United States Embassy Consular Office in Port au Prince, Haiti where he submitted an Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, Form DS-230, Part II in order to gain entry to the United States. The form specifically requires that each applicant state whether or not they are a member of any class of individuals that are excluded from admission into the United States, including those who have “ordered, carried out or materially assisted in extrajudicial and political killings and other acts of violence against the Haitian people.” It is alleged that Viliena falsely responded that he was not. Viliena thereafter swore to, or affirmed, before a U.S. Consular Officer that the contents of the application were true and signed the application. According to court documents, thereafter, on or about June 4, 2008 and based upon Viliena’s false representations in the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Form DS-230, the U.S. Department of State approved Viliena’s DS-230 application.

On or about July 14, 2008 – as the result of the approval of his DS-230 application – Viliena gained entry into the United States and was thereafter granted lawful permanent residence status in the United States. As a further result, Viliena received a Permanent Resident Card. Viliena has continued to possess a Permanent Resident Card and has used such card on numerous occasions to enter the United States.

The charge of visa fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins; HSI Acting SAC Krol; Jennifer De La O, Director of Field Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office; and Malden Police Chief Glenn Cronin made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan of Rollins’ National Security Unit and Christina Giffin and Alexandra Skinnion of the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Unit Section (HRSP) are prosecuting the case, with assistance from HRSP historian Christopher Hayden.

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