Homeland security for sale at the Toronto Consulate
By Lee Russ
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at 05:25 PM
As you try to survive the barrage of election year hype about homeland security and the great lengths to which our government is going to make us safe, chew on this one from the Chicago Sun Times.
U.S. envoy charged in work visa scheme
August 27, 2006
BY MATT APUZZO
WASHINGTON -- A veteran U.S. diplomat will spend the weekend in jail on charges he traded work visas for lavish dinners, New York City hotel rooms, jewelry and Las Vegas trips with exotic dancers.
Michael John O'Keefe, the deputy non-immigrant visa chief at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges Friday. International jewelry executive Sunil Agrawal, a native of India, also was charged but remains at large.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, authorities have tightened controls over non-immigrant visas for students, tourists and workers. Friday's indictment, however, describes a scheme in which O'Keefe fast-tracked applications for Agrawal's company, STS Jewels of New York.
O'Keefe personally handled STS applications, going so far as to approve some that had been rejected. He awarded 21 visas to STS employees, the indictment says.
Could get 15 years
Agrawal allegedly lavished him with gifts in return.
On Jan. 4, 2004, before one visa application, Agrawal allegedly sent O'Keefe an e-mail saying: ''Your hotel booking is confirmed in Hilton Millennium in Midtown Manhattan. Two rooms are booked in your name. The car service will be there at the airport to take you to the hotel.''
The next day, prosecutors said, O'Keefe received a $3,000 ring from Agrawal.
In June, after renewing visas for five STS managers, O'Keefe and two exotic dancers flew to Las Vegas, prosecutors said. Agrawal allegedly paid more than $5,400 for the trip.
O'Keefe, 59, of Portsmouth, N.H., could get up to 15 years in prison.
Why do the statements by the Indian businessman remind so much of the tone and perspective you see in the Abramoff "gimme mine" memos? Oh yeah, because they're both completely conscienceless pricks that exemplify the anything goes mentality rampant in American business.
Lets face it, it only takes one guy in the foreign service with a passion for lap dances and terrorists are conga-lining it down Broadway.