Cupertino Businessman Pleads Guilty To High-Tech Worker Visa Fraud
SAN JOSE, CA - A Cupertino businessman pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday afternoon to 19 counts of Visa Fraud, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
In pleading guilty, Balakrishnan Patwardhan admitted that between July 2008 and October 2010 he knowingly submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services false immigration forms and supporting documentation in I-129 applications seeking to obtain H-1B visas for 19 applicants. 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. Patwardhan submitted 19 fraudulent I-129 petitions in which he falsely represented that the applicants had high technology job offers with Gilead Sciences in Foster City, California, an American employer, when in reality he knew that he did not have jobs for the applicants. Patwardhan also admitted that he had included altered contracts and false Statements of Work that he had created in connection with the fraudulent I-129 applications.
Patwardhan, 53, of Cupertino, CA, was indicted on March 27, 2013 on 19 counts of Visa Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546(a). As part of his plea agreement, Patwardhan pleaded guilty to all 19 counts of the indictment. Patwardhan also agreed to pay a $100,000 forfeiture money judgment constituting proceeds he obtained as a result of his Visa Fraud. Patwardhan has been out of custody since his March 29, 2013 arrest 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.
Patwardhan’s sentencing is scheduled for August 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Edward J. Davila in San Jose, CA. 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.
Joseph Fazioli and Jeff Nedrow are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the aid of Legal Assistants Laurie Worthen and 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.