The road to becoming a naturalized citizen is not easy. The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has well-defined steps that spell out how to lawfully become a U.S. citizen. (For some immigrants, it can take years, a good immigration lawyer, and a lot of money to make their dream come true.) Today, we take a look at 12 defendants who unsuccessfully tried to circumvent the citizenship process by committing two types of fraud in pursuit of their dream.
A Department of Justice press release explains that the 12 defendants tried to obtain citizenship through fraudulent U nonimmigrant status visa (U-Visa) applications and marriage visas. (U-Visas are granted to victims of specific crimes who have experienced mental or physical abuse and who are also helpful to law enforcement or the government in investigating or prosecuting related criminal activity.)
The two fraudulent scams were carried out with the help of a licensed attorney. He allegedly drafted and submitted bogus visa applications and other documents to USCIS for the purpose of obtaining U-Visas and marriage visas for immigrants who otherwise would not qualify for citizenship. A former police officer also assisted by preparing false police reports to support the bogus claims that the victims had experienced the crimes in Jackson, Mississippi. Marriage fraud occurred when several of the defendants entered into marriages with U.S. citizens specifically for the purpose of obtaining immigration status. (The American spouses were paid to marry the defendants.)
All 12 defendants entered guilty pleas admitting their involvement. Three of the defendants also pleaded guilty to conspiring to obtain fraudulent marriage visas by arranging bogus marriages to U.S. citizens. Two of the 12 defendants were responsible for spearheading the scheme to obtain the fraudulent U-Visas and arrange the fake marriages to non-eligible people. (All of the defendants admitted that that they were not victims of crime in Mississippi. Some of them weren’t even in Jackson when the crimes allegedly occurred.)
The 12 defendants are facing some pretty stiff penalties to include five years in prison and $250,000 per count if convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and misuse visa permits; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for fraud and the misuse of visa permits; five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for marriage fraud; 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for mail fraud; and, 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud. (These perpetrators are facing decades in prison if the judge decides to throw the book at them.)
It’s hard to guess what the sentence will be for each of these criminals, but you can be sure that their dream of U.S. citizenship is officially over. (It’s actually a bad dream that could possibly turn into a nightmare if prison is involved.) It’s an honor and a privilege to become an American citizen and you can be sure that the government will bring violators of our nation’s immigration laws to justice to protect those who follow the rules.
Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, ”Twelve Defendants Plead Guilty to Marriage and Visa Immigration Fraud,” released on October 25, 2016.
Jackson, Miss United States Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr., of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations – New Orleans Field Office, announced today that twelve defendants have entered guilty pleas admitting to U-Visa fraud and marriage fraud in two separate cases.
Three defendants have entered guilty pleas to conspiracy charges in both cases. Sachin Girishkumar Patel, 33, of Clinton, Mississippi; Tarunkumar Purushottambhai Patel, 49, of Kingdom City, Missouri; and Simpson Lloyd Goodman, 29, of Waynesboro, Georgia, admitted to their roles in conspiracies to commit U-Visa fraud and to commit marriage fraud. Sachin G. Patel and Tarunkumar Patel both admitted to conspiring to obtain fraudulent U-Visas for non-citizens and to obtain fraudulent marriage visas by arranging fraudulent marriages to U.S. citizens. Simpson Lloyd Goodman, a licensed attorney, admitted to drafting and submitting false applications and documents in an attempt to fraudulently obtain U-visas and marriage visas for otherwise ineligible individuals referred to him by Sachin G. Patel and Tarunkumar Patel.