Two plead guilty in visa bribery scheme

February 26, 2009 06:09

An international jewelry executive and a former US diplomat pleaded guilty Wednesday to trading gemstone rings, trips with exotic dancers and other gifts in exchange for expedited work visas. The scheme was hatched in Toronto, where Mike O'Keefe was the deputy nonimmigrant visa chief at the US consulate. O'Keefe personally fast-tracked visa applications for New York-based STS Jewels. In exchange, he received the presents from Sunil Agrawal, the chief executive officer of STS Jewels, according to court documents. O'Keefe, 61, pleaded guilty to accepting an illegal gratuity, a felony that carries up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His wife and grown children sat in the courtroom, wiping tears from their eyes and clinging to each other during the hearing.

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