Cupertino Businessman Sentenced To Prison And Ordered To Forfeit $100,000 For High-Technology Worker Visa Fraud
SAN JOSE – A Cupertino businessman was sentenced yesterday to prison and ordered to forfeit $100,000 arising out of his H-1B Visa Fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in Charge Dean K. Shear, Nick Annan, Acting Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Francisco, and Patrick Van Thull, Supervisor for the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s in San Jose.
Balakrishnan Patwardhan, 54, of Cupertino, Calif., previously pleaded guilty on March 31, 2014, to 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 originally filed on March 27,2013. In pleading guilty, 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, Calif., an American employer, when in reality he knew that these applicants did not have such job offers. 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.
United States District Court Judge Edward J. Davila yesterday afternoon sentenced Patwardhan to a 10 month sentence split to consist of 5 months prison and 5 months of home detention with electronic monitoring. Pursuant to the parties’ plea agreement, Judge Davila also ordered Patwardhan to pay a $100,000 forfeiture money judgment constituting proceeds he received as a result of his Visa Fraud. Judge Davila also sentenced the defendant to a two-year period of supervised released and ordered him to self-surrender by Jan. 15, 2015.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli is prosecuting the case with the aid of Laurie Worthen. 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 ICE HSI. 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.