GREENSBORO – Vyacheslav Fyodorovich Rizhkov, age 44, born in Azerbaijan and residing in Union County, was sentenced on July 22, 2022, by Senior United States District Judge N. Carlton Tilley, Jr., to four months in prison followed by a one-year term of supervised release for one count of unlawful procurement of naturalization. Moreover, Rizhkov was judicially denaturalized as a United States citizen.
According to court records, on Sept. 17, 2019, Rizhkov fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship by making materially false statements under oath regarding his naturalization application. In response to the question “Have you ever committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” he answered “No.” However, on March 6, 2020, in the Superior Court of North Carolina in Cabarrus County, Rizhkov was convicted of sexual battery of a physically helpless person and two counts of indecent liberties with a child. Rizhkov was sentenced for those offenses to a suspended term of imprisonment of between 16 and 29 months and ordered to register as a sex offender. According to court records, all three victims were minors who he molested over a period of years, beginning at least as early as July 2017. Rizhkov was not arrested until after he naturalized, thus immigration officials were unaware of his crimes.
Sandra J. Hairston, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, made the announcement. ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations division investigated the case as part of Operation False Haven, an ongoing ERO initiative purpose-built to aggressively target child molesters and other egregious felons who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank J. Chut.