NORFOLK, VA (The Va. Pilot) – The man behind dozens of mall kiosks in Virginia and several other states was sentenced Thursday morning to 6½ years on charges he illegally hired dozens of Israeli nationals to sell cosmetics.
Omer Gur, a former member of the Israeli Navy’s special forces who lived most recently in Raleigh, N.C., also was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and forfeit several properties he owned in North Carolina, a 2011 Audi Q5 SUV and $300,000 in cash.
“You were the leader. First-class leader,” U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson said of the conspiracy. He described it as a “massive scheme of lying, cheating and stealing.”
Federal guidelines recommended a sentence of at least five years and 10 months. Prosecutors sought a sentence in line with those guidelines, while the defense asked for less.
Gur, 36, pleaded guilty July 6 in Norfolk to conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to launder money.
According to court documents, Gur – who prosecutors claim entered into a sham marriage in 2005 to become a lawful permanent resident – was the owner or president of several companies that used mall kiosks to sell skin-care products from the Dead Sea region of Israel.
The kiosks operated under names including Premier Skincare, Orogold and Seacret Spa. Court documents, however, say Gur’s businesses also fell under the umbrella of a larger company based in Israel known as Rasko.
The kiosks were in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Missouri. Among other places, they could be at MacArthur Center, Lynnhaven Mall, Greenbrier Mall and Patrick Henry Mall.
The U.S. operations started in about 2005. In 2011, however, Gur and his associates began hiring Israeli nationals on tourist visas in violation of immigration law. He employed about 340 during the course of the conspiracy, including more than 250 who had only tourist visas.
“The profits from the scheme were vast, well into the millions of dollars and these funds were used domestically and sent to Israel to further the scheme,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Samuels wrote in court documents, claiming Gur laundered more than $7 million.
Barry Boss, Gur’s attorney, described his client in court documents as an Israeli war hero with two children who didn’t deserve a lengthy sentence. He noted that Gur will be deported when released from prison.