News

Illegal Alien Sentenced in Racketeering Conspiracy


Conspirators Sought to Pay Bribes to Government Officials
to Abate State Taxes and Obtain Green Cards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Javed Iqbal, age 40, of Snow Hill, Maryland, today to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for a racketeering conspiracy related to a scheme to bribe officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ICE) to illegally obtain green cards and the Maryland Comptroller’s Office to receive abatement of state taxes, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to the plea agreement, Iqbal was employed by Mohammad Ijaz and another associate who owned and operated convenience store/gas stations in Snow Hill, Maryland. In January 2005, the associate sought to have a cooperating witness, who held himself out to be involved in large-scale international drug trafficking and international smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes, assist with payment of bribes to abate $788,000 in state sales and use taxes assessed against the convenience store/gas stations. 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 Maryland State Comptroller’s Office. Between April and May of 2005, Iqbal, Ijaz and their associate gave the cooperating witness four bribe payments totaling $200,000 with the understanding that the monies would be provided to a Maryland state tax official to abate the sales and use taxes for the businesses. The Comptroller’s Office subsequently provided false letters which the cooperating witness gave to Ijaz and the associate to confirm abatement of the taxes in response to the bribe.

In March 2005, the associate sought to have the cooperating witness fraudulently obtain green cards for their associates in exchange for bribes. From May 2005 to September 2007, Iqbal and his coconspirators gave the cooperating witness a total of $524,950, with an additional $55,050 forthcoming for partially completed bribes, to pass on to an individual believed to be an official with ICE. This scheme included $15,000 which Iqbal gave to the cooperating witness to fraudulently obtain a green card for himself, which Iqbal received from the cooperating witness on March 3, 2006.

The payments for the bribes were all made to the cooperating witness, who provided the money to federal law enforcement agents. There were in fact no corrupt immigration and state officials involved in the scheme.

As part of his plea agreement, Iqbal has agreed to forfeit $323,565.

Mohammad Ijaz, age 43, of Snow Hill, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced on June 25, 2008 to four years in prison. 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 prosecuted the case.

 

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