TIllegal Alien Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy
Conspirators Sought to Pay Bribes to a Government Official to Obtain Green Cards
Baltimore, Maryland - Mohammad Asif, age 33, formerly of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty today to a racketeering conspiracy related to a scheme to bribe officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to illegally obtain green cards, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
"Protecting the integrity of the United States immigration system is a key component of our homeland security mission," said James A. Dinkins, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Baltimore. "This case clearly demonstrates our resolve to identify, arrest and bring to justice those involved in these illegal schemes who seek to criminally exploit our immigration system."
According to his guilty plea, Asif was born in Pakistan and is neither a citizen nor a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Associates of Asif paid a cooperating witness, who held himself out to be involved in large-scale international drug trafficking and international smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes, $11,000 toward a $21,000 bribe to fraudulently obtain a green card for Asif. Green cards are otherwise known as lawful permanent resident cards. The associates had previously paid monies to the cooperating witness as bribes to abate sales and use taxes against their own businesses, and to fraudulently obtain green cards for their associates. The cooperating witness, acting at the direction of federal law enforcement, represented that he would facilitate payment of the bribes to his alleged contacts in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
On October 24, 2006, Asif met with the cooperating witness in Milwaukee, paid him $10,000 to complete the payment of his bribe and received his fraudulently obtained green card.
From November 2006 to June 2007, Asif helped to arrange four other of his associates to fraudulently obtain green cards through the payment of an additional $90,000 in bribes to the cooperating witness to pass on to an individual they believed to be an immigration official.
The payments for the bribes were all made to the cooperating witness, who provided the money to federal law enforcement agents. There in fact were no corrupt immigration and state officials involved in the scheme.
As part of his plea agreement, Asif has agreed to forfeit $111,000.
Asif faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis scheduled sentencing for September 23, 2008.
Most recently, Saeed Ahmed, age 46, of Salisbury, Maryland, pleaded guilty on August 5, 2008 to the racketeering conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2008 at 9:30 a.m. To date, 20 defendants have pleaded guilty to their participation in this scheme.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for their investigative work and expressed appreciation to the Maryland Comptroller’s Office for its assistance in this case. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Christine Manuelian and P. Michael Cunningham, who are prosecuting the case.