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Hare Krishna temple head priest sentenced for conspiring to defraud gov't

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Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Judge's Gavel By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - The head priest of a Milwaukee Hare Krishna temple has been sentenced to three years in a federal prison for conspiring to defraud the government.

Prosecutors said 33-year-old Sagarsen Haldar violated immigration laws by bringing in fake priests from India as part of a visa program for religious workers – and he then extorted money from those people.

Haldar brought in two dozen people over a two-year period to work at his Milwaukee temple. But authorities said they were actually indentured servants who worked outside the temple, and gave their paychecks to Haldar.

Judge Rudolph Randa’s sentence was 2 years shorter than what prosecutors recommended. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Haanstad said Haldar did not accept responsibility for what he did.

Court records showed that Haldar committed retail theft after he was convicted of the visa fraud – and he stole a computer from a store several years ago.

Haldar’s attorney offered proof that his client did a number of good things at his Milwaukee temple.

Judge Randa said there was plenty of evidence that Haldar was an honest and caring person – but he then asked how someone so religious could engage in criminal behavior. 

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