Whiting man charged with beating over immigration scheme
Post-Tribune staff report July 3, 2012 3:24PM
Updated: July 4, 2012 10:56PM
A Whiting man has been charged in Lake Superior Court with robbery, criminal confinement, aggravated battery, strangulation and residential entry in a 2011 incident in Crown Point that left one man severely injured and a second suspect hospitalized with broken bones after he jumped from a third-floor apartment window.
Piljo Piljagic, 28, of the 2500 block of White Oak Avenue, faces a maximum 50-year sentence if convicted of the charges filed after the victim told police he had agreed to pay Piljagic to arrange a marriage to help him gain U.S. citizenship.
Police were called to an apartment in the 400 block of South Indiana Avenue, where they found Russian national Alexandre Radis covered in blood.
Radis was hospitalized for five days with a broken eye socket, broken rib, punctured and collapsed lung and extreme swelling and bruising to his face.
Radis told police two men knocked at his apartment at about 10:30 p.m. on March 20, 2011. He opened the door and was punched in the face by one of the men, who pushed him inside his apartment. Two men then choked, beat and kicked him on his face, back and torso, then demanded money. After being beaten for several minutes, Radis told them the money was in his shoes, and the men began searching through his belongings.
When police arrived, they heard screams and forced open the door. Once inside, officers found an open bedroom window. Below, currency was scattered on the ground and parking area.
Ralph D. Gabriel Jr., 45, of Chicago, was kneeling in the parking lot between two parked cars with broken bones in his right leg and a fractured left heel. Gabriel, who has pleaded not guilty, has a jury trial set to begin Oct. 29.
Police collected $6,200 from the yard and parking lot, an additional $700 in the hat Gabriel was wearing and $400 on the ground where Gabriel was taken into custody.
Radis told police he had agreed to pay a man named Piljo $20,000 to find a woman who is an U.S. citizen for him to marry and then obtain U.S. citizenship for himself.
He paid Piljagic $12,000 in December 2010 and married a woman who he later discovered had a drug problem.
Radis told Piljagic he wanted a divorce and was not going to pay the remaining $8,000. Piljagic threatened to break Radis’ bones if he didn’t pay.
Agents with the Department of Homeland Security Immigrations, Customs and Enforcement Division interviewed a woman who prepared immigration documents for Radis at Piljagic’s direction. She said she was paid $1,500 for her role in the scheme.