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Keys labor staffing firm owner gets 4 years in prison, ordered to pay $3.5M in restitution

Miami Herald
A federal judge on Monday sentenced the owner of several Key West labor staffing firms to four years in prison.

According to the Justice Department, Petr Sutka owned at least five companies that provided hotels, restaurants and bars in the Southernmost City with staff between 2011 and 2021.

The problem: the employees were foreign nationals not permitted to work in the United States. Additionally, Sutka and his associates did not withhold federal income tax nor Social Security and Medicare taxes from these workers’ pay, according to a Justice Department press release.

He and his co-defendants also did not report the staffers’ wages to the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department said.

The case was investigated by agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the IRS.

According to court records, federal prosecutors charged Sutka in September. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government in January.

On top of the prison time, Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Sutka to three years of supervised release when he gets out of lock-up and ordered him to pay $3.5 million restitution to the federal government.

Co-defendants Vasil Khatiashvili and Zdenek Strnad are scheduled to be sentenced on April 22, according to the Justice Department press release.

The government has successfully prosecuted multiple similar cases against companies that provide staff to the Key West hospitality industry over the past several years.

In August, a judge sentenced the former housekeeping manager of a Key West hotel to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release — as well as ordered her to pay $1 million in restitution — after she was convicted of charges of conspiring to hire immigrants not permitted to work in the U.S. from another staffing firm.

The firm providing the workers was operated her husband and son, who were also charged and sentenced in the scheme, according to court documents.

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