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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Arrested in Alaska in Russian Strippers Case

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A check into the legal status of Russian dancers at an Anchorage strip club has uncovered what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to force women into the sex trade.

The investigation has resulted in the arrest and jailing on Tuesday of two men -- one American and one Russian -- who prosecutors say used false pretenses to get seven women and teen-agers to dance topless and naked.

One of the men, Tony Kennard of Chugiak, Alaska, appeared Wednesday before a federal magistrate for formal charging.

He was charged with lying on visa applications, an offense carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

The other suspect, Viktor Virchenko of Krasnodar, Russia, was scheduled to appear before the magistrate Friday.

The two had obtained visas for the dancers by saying they would appear at folk festivals and cultural events such as Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrations, according to charging documents.

The dancers were said to be shocked when, after arriving in Anchorage last month, they were told they would be performing in a strip club, according to the affidavit filed by an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent.

They were made to dance for tips that were confiscated by Kennard, said the affidavit released Wednesday, and their belongings, passports and airline tickets were held by Kennard and Virchenko.

The dancers were brought to the United States "to be placed in involuntary servitude and coerced into dancing for money, all of which money was kept by Kennard," said the affidavit of INS Special Agent Stefanie Vetter.

The dancers, who included a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, lived in wretched conditions and feared Kennard and Virchenko, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Cooper.

"They were essentially kept in one room. They slept on mattresses on the floor," Cooper told U.S. Magistrate Harry Branson.

One of the teen-agers was so depressed that she suffered an emotional breakdown around Christmas and deliberately injured herself, Cooper said.

"We have victims who have been exploited, and we're going to play this right by the book," he told reporters.

INS agents became interested in the case when the strip club, the Crazy Horse, began advertising the Russians' appearances.

The dancers were still in Alaska in the care of the INS although some were reported to be preparing to head home to Russia.