UN Interpreter Jailed for Smuggling Uzbeks

NEW YORK -- A United Nations translator was sentenced to a year in prison for using UN stationery and fraudulent documents to smuggle people into the United States from Uzbekistan.

Vyacheslav Manokhin, a Russian national who had been living in Greenwich, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to obtain visas by means of false statements.

The visas were supposed to be for foreigners attending UN conferences in the United States, but either the gatherings never took place or the visa holders did not attend them, prosecutors said. Manokhin forged invitations to the conferences from a nonexistent UN official.

He apologized at his sentencing Thursday, though he said he did not initially think what he did was illegal. "I learned my lesson. I paid a huge price for this," he said.

Prosecutors said Manokhin was a key accomplice in the scheme hatched by a fellow translator, Vladimir Derevianko. One Uzbek traveler paid $15,000 for the pair's help in getting the travel papers.

Manokhin has already spent 9 1/2 months in prison, so he is likely to remain for only another two months. His lawyer, James Roth, said Manokhin and his family are likely to be deported to Russia upon his release.

Derevianko, a former KGB informant granted U.S. political asylum in 2004 after running afoul of organized crime figures and government officials in Ukraine, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this month to the nine months he had served after his arrest.