Father of Miss Oregon, a former member of a Serbian military unit, gets year of probation

The father of a former Miss Oregon who lied about his army service during the Bosnian civil war when he applied for asylum in the United States has been sentenced to one year of probation.

Milenko Krstic, 53, of Beaverton, who pleaded guilty nearly two months ago, received the most lenient federal sentence for a felony crime on Friday. Immigration officials, however, will likely seek to deport him and possibly his wife and two daughters.

Krstic, who had more than 100 supporters at the hearing, acknowledged failing to disclose he had lived for five years in Zvornik, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he was a member of a Serb army brigade that reportedly took part in the slaughter of unarmed Muslim prisoners.

No evidence was ever uncovered that Krstic, who served as a clerk, took part in the massacre, and he was not charged with war crimes.

"I didn't endanger anybody," Krstic told U.S. District Judge Anna Brown Friday, tears welling in his eyes. "I saved my family. I ask you to forgive me."

Krstic brought his wife and daughters to the Portland area as refugees in 1998. He and his wife took jobs they still hold, bought a house, joined a church and put their daughters through college.

Two years ago, his daughter Danijela was crowned Miss Oregon, the first foreign-born contestant to win. She later competed for Miss America, performing a belly dance in the talent portion of the contest.

Krstic's attorneys gave an 80-minute presentation Friday on how their client had spoken out against the nationalism that sent his homeland into civil war, and how he had been conscripted into the Zvornik Brigade because avoiding service meant going to jail.

The judge said her role was to hand down a sentence that would discourage others from doing what Krstic had done. But she added there was nothing to gain by sending him to prison because his felony conviction will likely mean deportation.

"That burden is itself a significant consequence here," she said.


Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com