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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Former Employee of U.S. Consulate Sentenced

CHICAGO — A Russian who worked as an agricultural marketing official at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg has been sentenced to 10 months for helping two fellow countrymen commit visa fraud.

Igor Galitskiy, 43, was convicted in September of lying when he vouched for his fellow countrymen as legitimate business executives who wanted to attend a food marketing trade show in the United States. Galitskiy was sentenced on Wednesday.

He has spent the last eight months in the federal government's Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago and must stay there for several more weeks under federal Judge Harry Leinenweber's sentence.

Pleading for mercy, Galitskiy told Leinenweber on Wednesday that he once associated with professors and business executives but now is penned in with drug dealers and bank robbers at the MCC. He said he has developed psychological problems from being cooped up with criminals.

"My life has been destroyed," said Galitskiy, who worked at the consulate as a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee. One of his jobs was to recruit Russians to attend food-related trade shows in America.

Galitskiy was arrested when he arrived in Chicago for a trade show in May. The Russians who got visas after Galitskiy vouched for them were also arrested when they arrived in the United States. Authorities said they were not really food executives and were not here for a trade show.

They were convicted along with Galitskiy and sentenced by Leinenweber to five- and six-month sentences.

Federal prosecutors say that four Russians Galitskiy vouched for as legitimate business executives last year ended up accused of crimes in the United States. Three fled the country before arrest warrants could be served, but one was picked up in Colorado on a bad check charge. He was convicted and deported, according to federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors also said in court that one Russian man who arrived here as part of a U.S. Agriculture Department program was arrested in New Orleans on male prostitution charges. Asked later if that person had been recommended by Galitskiy, they declined to say, citing court rules.

Federal officials said that once Galitskiy is released, he most likely will waive deportation proceedings and quickly return to Russia.