Consultants From California And Texas Charged With Visa Fraud And Conspiracy


Consultants From California And Texas Charged With Visa Fraud And Conspiracy

Eleven-Count Indictment Alleges Defendants’ Staffing Company Submitted Fraudulent Applications for High-Tech Worker Visas

SAN JOSE - A federal grand jury indicted Kishore Dattapuram, Kumar Aswapathi, and Santosh Giri, charging the defendants in a visa fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. 

According to the indictment, Dattapuram, 49, of Santa Clara, Aswapathi, 49, of Austin, Texas, and Giri, 42, of San Jose, operated Nanosemantics, Inc., a Santa Clara-based consulting firm whose services included placing skilled foreign workers at software and technology companies in the Bay Area.  According to the indictment, the defendants worked together to submit fraudulent H-1B visa applications on behalf of foreign workers in order to gain a competitive advantage over competing firms.

The H-1B visa program allows foreign workers to obtain temporary authorization to live and work for employers in the United States.  In order to secure an H-1B visa, an employer or other sponsor must submit an “I-129” petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  A petition and associated documentation must confirm the existence and duration of the job waiting for the worker, and describe key details including the wages associated with the position.  

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In this case, the defendants allegedly used Nanosemantics to submit fraudulent I-129 petitions and obtain H-1B visas for workers that the defendants could later place at local companies.  By maintaining a group of available workers, the defendants would gain a competitive advantage over consultants that properly applied for paperwork only after matching a qualified worker to and available job.  According to the indictment, several of the I-129 petitions submitted by defendants stated that particular workers had specific jobs waiting for them at designated companies when, in reality, the defendants knew that these jobs did not exist.  Further, the defendants allegedly sought the cooperation of third parties to conceal their fraud.  For example, defendants allegedly orchestrated payments by Nanosemantics to at least one individual for permission to list his company as the employer for foreign workers even though Nanosemantics actually intended to place the workers elsewhere.  Further, defendants allegedly coached foreign workers and others, to respond to government inquiries in a way that would prevent the government from discovering the fraud.

In sum, the defendants all were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and ten counts of substantive visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a).

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The defendants were arrested yesterday in their respective towns of residence.  Dattapuram and Aswapathi made their initial appearances in federal court in San Jose and Austin, respectively.  Giri made his initial appearance today in federal court in San Jose.  All three defendants entered pleas of not guilty and were released on bonds.  Defendants are next scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. on May 13, 2019, for a status conference before the Honorable Judge Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge.  

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of ten years, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a) (visa fraud); and a maximum prison sentence of five years, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate for the conspiracy count.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bostic is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tong Zhang.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and HSI.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Former Congressional Staffer Sentenced to Prison for Extensive Fraud and Election Crimes Scheme

A former congressional staffer was sentenced today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $564,718.65 in restitution and $156,855.29 in forfeiture, for participating in a multi-year scheme to defraud charitable donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars and secretly funnel the proceeds to pay for personal expenses and illegally finance campaigns for federal office. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of FBI’s Washington Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Sarah Kull of IRS - Criminal Investigation (CI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.

Jason T. Posey, 48, of Tupelo, Mississippi, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.  Posey pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2017, to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.  As part of his plea, Posey admitted that he participated in a scheme led by former U.S. Representative Stephen E. Stockman, 62, who was convicted by a federal jury in Houston on April 12, 2018, of 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), making false statements to the FEC, making excessive coordinated campaign contributions, money laundering and filing a false tax return.  Another of Stockman’s former congressional staffers, Thomas Dodd, 40, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty on March 20, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements.  On Dec. 12, 2018, Dodd was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

According to the admissions made by Posey in connection with his guilty plea, from January 2013 to February 2014, Posey assisted Stockman in fraudulently soliciting $800,571.65 in donations from charitable organizations and the individuals who ran those organizations based on false pretenses, then using a series of sham nonprofit organizations and dozens of bank accounts to launder the money before it was spent on a variety of personal and campaign expenses.

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Specifically, Posey admitted that shortly after Stockman took office as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, Stockman and Dodd used the name of one sham nonprofit entity, Life Without Limits, to solicit and receive a $350,000 charitable donation, to be used to create an educational center called the Freedom House.  Stockman, Dodd, and Posey instead used this donation for a variety of personal and campaign expenses, including illegal conduit campaign contributions, and payments for hundreds of thousands of robocalls and mailings promoting Stockman’s candidacy for U.S. Senate in early 2014.

In addition, Posey admitted that, in connection with Stockman’s Senate campaign, Stockman and Posey used another sham nonprofit entity called Center for the American Future to secure a $450,571.65 donation in order to fund a purportedly legitimate independent expenditure promoting Stockman’s candidacy.  Posey admitted that the purportedly independent expenditure was in fact secretly controlled by Stockman, who directed his campaign and Posey to file false affidavits with the FEC covering up Stockman’s involvement. 

In addition, Posey admitted that during the early stages of the investigation, Stockman directed Posey to flee to Cairo, Egypt, for two and a half years so that Posey could not be questioned by law enforcement.

The FBI and IRS-CI investigated the case.  Deputy Chief Robert J. Heberle and Trial Attorney Ryan J. Ellersick of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case. 

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