A simple Google search of Michal Preclik’s name turns up an Interpol wanted poster from his native Czech Republic. So where was he arrested? In Nebraska’s maximum-security prison, where he was not an inmate, but a guard.
Preclik had worked at the prison for a year and his arrest came just two months after officials at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution promoted the 32-year-old to corporal. Prison officials learned last month that he was wanted on suspicion of drug and fraud crimes.
The electronic wanted poster, which shows his mug shot, went up on Interpol’s Web site exactly a year before his arrest. The poster is the first Web link that appears when Googling Preclik’s name.
“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?”
Hiring practices under review
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.
Preclik (pronounced PRESS’-lik) wound up in Nebraska in 2002 when he got a job at a hog farm through a company that recruited Eastern Europeans as laborers in violation of their tourist visas. The hog farm is about 30 miles from the Tecumseh prison.
Preclik later testified against Milan Matousek, who was convicted of transporting and harboring illegal aliens while helping the company. Preclik was granted legal residency in return for his help in the prosecution, said his wife, Kari Preclik, an American who 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.
“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. Marshall’s 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.
Nothing on background check
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 any warrants for his arrest, Smith said.
It is unclear whether that initial check of NCIC, which is overseen by the FBI, was done before or after the international police group listed Preclik as wanted on Sept. 8, 2008.
However, a second NCIC check was done Oct. 14, 2008, the same day Preclik’s employment with the prison officially began.
“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 hearing to determine if he can be released on bond. He has asked that the decision to send him back to the Czech Republic be reviewed.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement 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.