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H-1B visa scam: Indian American man from New Jersey pleads guilty to immigration, tax fraud

Posted on September 10, 2014
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An Indian American man from Edison, New Jersey, Sandipkumar Patel, 41, has pleaded guilty to orchestrating an eight-year scheme to falsify employment certifications to facilitate the illegal entry of Indian immigrants into the United States and to filing a false tax return.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey, Chief Richard Weber of Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Director Bill A. Miller of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) made the announcement, according to a press release.

Patel pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls of the District of New Jersey to conspiring to defraud the United States and to filing a false federal income tax return. Sentencing is scheduled for January 6, 2015.

According to court documents filed with the plea agreement, from 2001 until 2009, Patel sponsored the visa applications of Indian nationals by falsely claiming to provide employment for them in the United States.   Patel falsely certified on the visa applications that he would employ the immigrants in various technical fields at several New Jersey companies, thereby facilitating their illegal entry into the United States.   Over the course of the scheme, immigrants paid Patel thousands of dollars for the false certifications to fraudulently secure the visas.

To disguise the scheme, Patel issued payroll checks and other payroll forms.   Patel required the immigrants to return the money from the checks and also to reimburse him for his payroll tax expenses, said the Justice Department.   Patel used the fraudulent pay stubs and payroll checks to support false applications to extend the visas, and Patel charged the immigrants fees for the visa extensions.

As a result of falsely carrying the immigrant employees on his payrolls, Patel overstated his payroll expenses on his federal income tax returns by more than $1.4 million over four years, under-reporting his tax obligation by over $400,000 for those years.

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