Michal Preclik
Michal Preclik, a guard at Nebraska's Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, was arrested when authorities learned he was an international fugitive wanted on drug and fraud charges in his native Czech Republic. (Courtesy Interpol)

A simple Google search of Michal Preclik's name turns up an Interpol wanted poster bearing his likeness.

But the Czech Republic native had been working as a guard at the maximum-security prison in Tecumseh for a year when he was arrested on an international warrant for drug and fraud crimes.

His Sept. 8 arrest came two months after officials at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution promoted him to corporal.

The electronic wanted poster for Preclik, 32, went up on Interpol's Web site a year before his arrest, and the poster is near the top of a list of links that appears when his name is Googled.

"This is just unbelievable that the state of Nebraska is hiring international criminals," said state Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha. "Who's minding the store?"

The Department of Correctional Services is reviewing its hiring practices, spokeswoman Dawn Renee Smith said.

"Obviously, it's a concern whenever we have anyone working at the facility ... who has any type of outstanding warrants," Smith said.

The situation is reminiscent of a 2005 incident that led to a state Department of Health and Human Services policy that requires Google searches of job candidates. The state had offered a job to Wayne Richard McGuire, but rescinded the offer after The Associated Press reported he had been convicted in absentia in Rwanda of the 1985 murder of Dian Fossey, whose research was the subject of the movie "Gorillas in the Mist."

Preclik wound up in Nebraska in 2002 when he got a job at a hog farm through a company that brought Eastern Europeans into the country on tourist visas, then got them jobs in violations of those visas.

Preclik later testified against Milan Matousek, who was convicted of transporting and harboring illegal immigrants while helping the company. Preclik was granted legal residency in return for his help in the prosecution, said his wife, Kari Preclik, an American he married in 2005.

She said the drug and fraud accusations stem from another prosecution he assisted with in the Czech Republic. He had become ensnared with organized crime while buying and selling cars and was kidnapped, she said. While testifying in that case, he was accused of giving members of the group drugs, she said.

But she had no idea of an outstanding warrant.

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"We did not find out he was wanted until he was picked up," Kari Preclik said.

Interpol, which fosters police cooperation across the borders of 188 countries, and the U.S. Marshals service didn't release any information about the accusations against Michal Preclik.

"I was shocked when I found out," said Patrick Barker, an officer at the prison who worked with Preclik. "Here we have a guy facing drug and fraud charges and we're dealing with contraband issues at the prison."

Smith said she wasn't aware of any internal investigations because of Preclik's situation.

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The Corrections Department did a background check on Preclik before hiring him, like it does on all potential hires, she said. But a national database that includes criminal records and warrants, the National Criminal Information Center, did not reveal warrants for his arrest, Smith said.

The initial check of NCIC, which is overseen by the FBI, was done Sept. 7, 2008, a day before the international police group listed Preclik as wanted on its Web site, according to Smith.

But a second background check was done Oct. 21, 2008, a week after Preclik started working at the prison and more than a month after Interpol listed him as wanted.

"No warrant showed up at that time either," Smith said.

There is often a lag between the time Interpol lists someone as wanted and when an arrest warrant is issued in the country where the person is residing.

Preclik was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sept. 8 and has a Nov. 9 bond hearing. He has asked that the decision to send him back to the Czech Republic be reviewed.

Immigration spokesman Tim Counts declined to speak about Preclik's former or current immigration status other than to say he has been charged with violating U.S. immigration laws.



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