CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury returned a guilty verdict late yesterday against Kheungkham Vongphakdy, 47, of Charlotte, for unlawful procurement of citizenship, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell presided over the trial.
U.S. Attorney King is joined in making today’s announcement by Jarvis McMillar, Acting Field Office Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE-ERO).
Vongphakdy was a native and citizen of Laos, but on August 3, 2011, he became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. According to filed documents, evidence presented at trial, and witness testimony, Vongphakdy obtained his U.S. citizenship fraudulently, by providing materially false information on his citizenship application. Trial evidence established that, during the naturalization process, Vongphakdy lied about his criminal history, and failed to admit that, on numerous occasions in November 2008 and October 2009, he had committed criminal sexual acts with a child victim under the age of 13.
Specifically, on March 7, 2011, Vongphakdy submitted an Application for Naturalization (form N-400) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). He answered “No” to Question 15, “Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” On August 3, 2011, Vongphakdy appeared in person at the CIS office in Charlotte and participated in a naturalization ceremony. He was granted U.S. citizenship and received a Certificate of Naturalization. This occurred approximately three years after he sexually molested a child victim. At the time Vongphakdy was going through the naturalization process immigration officials were not aware of his crimes. Vongphakdy admitted to this criminal conduct on April 4, 2014, when he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual offense in the Superior Court of North Carolina in Mecklenburg County. He was ordered to serve 116 to 158 months in prison and to register as a sex offender.
Vongphakdy is currently in federal custody. The maximum penalties for the charge of unlawful procurement of citizenship are 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked ICE-ERO for their investigation of the case and credited Operation False Haven which led to Vongphakdy’s conviction. False Haven is an initiative by ICE-ERO to identify child molesters and other egregious individuals who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth Smith and Katherine Armstrong of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are in charge of the prosecution.