CLEVELAND–An Ohio man pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying on his immigration documents by failing to disclose his role in the ethnically motivated murder of a Croatian couple during the war in the former Yugoslavia.
The plea comes after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWC).
Slobodan Mutic, 52, of Barberton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and willingly possessing a former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Form I-94, knowing it to be forged, counterfeited, altered, falsely made or to be have been procured by means of a false claim or statement.
“This nation is a haven for refugees, not human rights criminals,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This defendant lied his way into this nation and he will be punished. And we also hope that he is held to account for any of his actions once he is returned to his home country to face justice.”
Mutic possessed a Form I-94 in 2012 that he fraudulently procured. Mutic, on or about August 2001,falsely claimed “no” when filling out immigration forms that asked if he had ever “been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, fined or imprisoned for breaking any law or ordinance…” and again when asked if he had “ever engaged in any genocide, otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality ethnic origin or political opinion,” according to court documents.
Those answers were false. Mutic was arrested, detained for a month and questioned by local law enforcement about the murder of Stjepan and Paula Cindric. The answers also contradicted statements he made during a January 8, 1992, interview that were memorialized in an affidavit that Mutic signed, according to court documents.
In that affidavit, Mutic admitted to his participation in the murder of the Cindric family along with accomplice Dragan Perencevic. Mutic and Perencevic targeted the Cindrics because of their ethnicity, according to court documents.
Mutic is scheduled to be sentenced January 6, 2016. He will be subject to stipulated removal from the United States to Croatia upon completion of his sentence.