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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 19, 2014

Defendant In Extensive Marriage Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Sippy Lal, 61, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to induce aliens to illegally enter the United States for private financial gain, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Lal and his co-defendants Mamta Sharma and Rani Singh-Lal were involved in an elaborate immigration-fraud scheme involving foreign nationals from India who paid to enter into sham engagements or marriages with locally recruited U.S. citizens in an effort to legalize their immigration status. The citizens recruited by Lal were paid thousands of dollars to fly to India, meet and take pictures with a purported spouse, and sometimes enter into actual marriages (albeit often using aliases). Thereafter, fraudulent petitions were filed with the United States seeking visas allowing the Indian citizens to enter and reside within the United States. On at least one occasion, after an alien entered on a fraudulent fiancé visa procured through the scheme, Lal paid a U.S. citizen to further participate by entering into a sham marriage with the alien in Sacramento.

Co-defendant Sharma used various aliases to pose as a U.S. citizen in connection with five different petitions filed since 2008, despite the fact that she is not a U.S. citizen and despite the fact that she was married to Lal throughout that time period. Similarly, co-defendant Singh-Lal posed as the petitioner with respect to three different petitions, all filed with slight variations on her true name.

According to Lal’s plea agreement, well over 25 fraudulent petitions were submitted to immigration authorities as a result of the conspiracy, and at least nine Indian nationals entered the United States and were, at least for some period of time, able to avoid detection.

Co-defendants Sharma and Singh-Lal previously entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 24 months and 27 months, respectively.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, and the California Department of Justice – Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence. Assistant United States Attorneys Michele Beckwith and Philip Ferrari are prosecuting the case.

Lal is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on March 6, 2015. The plea agreement contemplates a sentence of two years. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court at the hearing.
Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 2:12-cr-027 GEB
Updated April 8, 2015