Doc Giving Citizenship Test Waiver Gets Probation, $100K Fine
By Jessica Corso
May 22, 2017
U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood said at a hearing Monday that three years of probation without home confinement was “sufficient but not greater than necessary” to punish Marek Walczyk for signing off on a waiver that allows immigrants to bypass certain testing requirements for U.S. citizenship.
The U.S. probation office had recommended home confinement in its sealed report on the case, but Wood said she didn’t think “home confinement versus no home confinement advances any goal of sentencing.”
She also said she recognized the $100,000 fine was above the recommended guideline but served the purpose of demonstrating that the crime was serious.
“I think fines are not supposed to be comfortable,” Wood said when Walczyk’s attorney objected to the fine being “extraordinary.”
Walczyk pled guilty in February to signing a form indicating that one of his patients was too depressed and socially anxious to take the English language and U.S. civics portions of the citizenship test even though he hadn’t examined the patient.
The individual in question was an FBI informant, according to information provided at Monday’s sentencing hearing, although prosecutor Andrew Erskine told Wood that Walczyk may have done the same thing with up to eight patients.
Before handing down her sentence, Wood wanted to know why it took the government so long to indict Walczyk, who supposedly last filled out a waiver in 2011.
She noted the timing of the 2015 indictment, saying that the psychiatrist called investigators shortly beforehand asking if it was OK to obtain a medical license in Florida. The judge wanted to know whether the investigators had forgotten about Walczyk and whether the call had triggered the indictment.
Erskine said he couldn’t explain the timing of the indictment because he wasn’t on the case at the time.
“I believe the delay is explained on the fact that others were being investigated,” he said.
Erskine said Walczyk’s assistance led to three convictions for similar crimes and that his case “has gotten some degree of attention from the Polish community in Chicago.”
Walczyk left Poland while it was in the orbit of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. He said in a statement to the court that he was “overwhelmed” by the informant’s kindness and wanted to help.
“I would like to promise that nothing like this will happen again in my lifetime,” he said.
Prosecutors didn’t oppose Walczyk’s request for probation, though they didn’t recommend a sentence, either.
Walczyk’s attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office both declined to comment after the sentencing.
The government is represented by Andrew Erskine of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Walczyk is represented by Keith Spielfogel.
The case is U.S. v. Walczyk et al, case number 1:15-cr-00661, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.