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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 29, 2013

Cupertino Businessman Charged With High-Tech Worker Visa Fraud

SAN JOSE, CA - A Cupertino businessman made his initial appearance in federal court yesterday after being charged with 19 counts of Visa Fraud, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

According to an indictment filed on March 27, 2013, Balarkishan Patwardhan made false statements in visa petitions for 19 applicants, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546(a). The indictment alleges that Patwardhan knowingly submitted false immigration forms and supporting documentation to the government related to I-129 petitions. I-129 petitions relate to the H-1B high-technology worker visa program which requires, among other things, that an American employer certify it has high-technology jobs that cannot be filled by Americans. The indictment alleges that Patwardhan falsely represented to the government that 19 non-immigrant applicants had high technology job offers with an American employer, when in reality he knew that he did not have jobs for the applicants.

Patwardhan was arrested today, and was released on a $50,000 bond with one of the conditions of his pretrial release being that he not provide consulting services for technology companies or provide any visa services. His next scheduled court appearance is April 22, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Edward J. Davila.

The maximum statutory penalty for Visa Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546(a) is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.

Jeff Nedrow and Joseph Fazioli are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Susan Kreider. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Patwardhan must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty