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Former Bosnian Combatant Charged with Passport Fraud

May 23, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts:

BOSTON – A Winthrop man was charged yesterday for allegedly using a fraudulently obtained passport to enter the United States from Istanbul, Turkey in 2021.

Azem Gigo Zebic, 51, was charged with one count of use of a fraudulently obtained passport.

According to the charging documents, Zebic first came to the United States from Croatia in 1997. It is alleged that Zebic was admitted to the United States after falsely claiming that he had been the subject of persecution by Serb forces during the Bosnian War. Specifically, Zebic allegedly claimed, among other things, that Serb forces had captured, interrogated, beaten him and forced him to pull wounded soldiers from the front lines. It is further alleged that, once in the United States, Zebic continued to make false statements about his past, including that he had never assisted anyone else enter the country illegally. Zebic allegedly used this false history to obtain lawful permanent residency, American citizenship and a United States passport.

The use of a fraudulently obtained passport provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Michael J. Krol, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; Sharon B. MacDermott, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Boston Field Office; and Jonathan Davidson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office made the announcement today. This matter was investigated with the assistance of the United States Interagency Human Rights Violators & War Crimes Center. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. McNeil and Jason A. Casey of Levy’s National Security Unit are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging document are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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