Raleigh businessman accused of illegally bringing hundreds to US
Posted March 2, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Omer Gur Geiger, a businessman who owns mall kiosks in North Carolina and surrounding states, was indicted in Virginia this week on charges he brought illegal workers to the United States, hid them from the IRS and did not fairly pay them for work performed.
Gur, who was born in Israel but is a legal permanent U.S. resident, owns two homes in north Raleigh, including one valued $1.3 million, a search of Wake County property records shows.
On Wednesday, he was being held in the Wake County Jail. He's scheduled to have a federal detention hearing in Raleigh on Friday.
Over the past decade, Gur and nine co-defendants have been employees of Stanga, LLC, a company registered in North Carolina which operates mall kiosks selling skin-care products. The products were sold under the "All That's Natural" umbrella, touting products from the Dead Sea region of Israel. The sales people have an online reputation of being overly aggressive.
Online searches show "All That's Natural" kiosks were located at one time at several local malls, including Triangle Town Center, Cary Towne Center, Southpoint in Durham and Fayetteville's Cross Creek Mall. As of Wednesday, none of those malls had any kiosks open under that name.
In the indictment issued by a Virginia federal court, Gur is charged with 34 counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, visa fraud, encouraging and inducing illegal entry, harboring illegal aliens, transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy to launder money.
The 49-page indictment says Stanga and other businesses run by Gur were all part of a larger enterprise headquartered in Israel, known as RASKO. The primary charge is that they employed people who were in the U.S. on the equivalent of tourist visas instead of work visas.
"From at least 2007 through the date of the Indictment, RASKO recruited foreign nationals from Israel to work as employees in its kiosks and stores in malls in the United States. If prospective employees did not have a visa, RASKO personnel offered to assist individuals in obtaining one for travel to the United States. Since 2011, many such workers came to the United States via B-2 visitor visas," the indictment reads.
For at least the past five years, agents tracked $14 million in sales and found many of the workers were not authorized to work in the U.S., plus the company failed to pay taxes on employees.
"From in or about 2011 through in or about the date of this Indictment, RASKO employed over one hundred and forty (140) B-2 visa holders that were not authorized to work in the United States," the indictment said.
The indictment says RASKO recruited employees from Israel with the promise of paid transportation to and housing in the U.S. but later deducted the cost of those benefits from employees' pay. It also says that some employees were paid in gift cards, and that taxes were not withheld.
The indictment describes how RASKO helped employees continue to circumvent the law once they were in the U.S.
"Once in the United States and working for RASKO, the managers and other employees assisted certain employees holding B-2 visas to apply for and obtain (and in some cases pay for) an extension of stay on their B-2 visas, which permitted employees to stay longer in the United States. In seeking such extensions, employees did not reveal their employment with RASKO. Managers provided employees with several versions of a form letter to use in support of their requested extension, which falsely claimed that the employee wanted to remain in the United States to travel and/or visit with friends and family," the indictment says.
Others indicted included Eyal Katz, a man who served various executive roles for Stanga and was later ordered deported from the U.S., and area managers and salespeople for the companies from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia.