POGO, an internationally acclaimed VJ and producer, is in custody awaiting deportation half-way through his US tour after being arrested by immigration officials over a lost passport and alleged irregularities with paperwork.
It is understood that POGO (real name Nick Bertke), who is based in Australia, had lost his passport earlier in the tour and applied for replacement documents.
POGO and his tour manager were pulled over by US immigration officials on the road between Toronto and Buffalo, on the western border of New York state, after making a U-turn. He was carrying a certain amount of cash from the shows, as is normal for artists on such tours, and it turned out that he wasn’t carrying the correct work visa, resulting in his immediate arrest.
Nick’s mother, Marianne, posted a public statement on her Facebook page:
As some of you will know Nick’s tour has now been cancelled. I am making a plea to all of you to please send him your positive thoughts and love. He has not been deported yet! He is at present in a cell on his own in the ALLEGANY COUNTY JAIL!
He feels totally cut off from everyone and as his mother I am devastated by this news. He needs to know that you all care. He is only allowed a 10-minute phone call home once a day. No visitors during the week only on the weekends for one hour only.
Do any of his fans live near this area? If so could you please visit him at Allegany County Jail, 4884 State Route 19, Belmont, N.Y., 14813. He will be transferred to Buffalo Federal Detention facility, 4250 Federal Drive, Batavia, N.Y. 14020. This process might take at least two weeks.
I appeal to all his fans out there, please support him in whatever way you can. I am praying for him as well as many of my friends. As his parents my husband and I feel totally helpless. We live in Western Australia and there is not much we can do. Please pray for him. He has such a beautiful spirit as is evident by the music he produces and now he is sitting in a jail cell, this is just soul-destroying.
Nick’s commission manager, Bryant Randall of Reverse Enginear, said: “He was initially detained for a combination of ‘excessive amounts of undocument[ed] money, no passport and a lack of a work visa’ – Immigration’s words, not mine. The sole reason he remains and is not already gone by now is because of a processing delay caused entirely by the missing physical passport. The work visa is only one of numerous variables we are addressing simultaneously.”
In a statement published on POGO’s official website, Bryant made it clear that he felt the booking agents for Nick’s tour, The Agency Group, had a duty of care to ensure the artist had the correct documentation.
But he confirmed that The Agency Group strongly disagreed with his view: “Their legal department has stated to me, they believe paperwork is the shared responsibility of the artist, and the artist’s tour manager, and the artist’s regular employer at a completely unrelated company (me) – but is in no way the agent’s responsibility whatsoever.”
Bryant is collecting messages of support through the Pogomix forum to send to Nick in prison while he awaits his deportation.
Ravetalk contacted the The Agency Group, which represents around 1,000 artists, for its comments but had not received a reply at the time of publishing.