Former State Employee Sentenced to 12 months in Prison for Role in $2 Million Scheme to Defraud the Office of AIDS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Nelli Kesoyan, 46, of Rancho Cordova, was sentenced today to four years and nine months in prison for conspiring to make false statements in a matter related to naturalization and citizenship and to obstruct, impede, or influence a pending agency proceeding, and for falsifying government records, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. sentenced co-defendant, Vanik Movsesyan, 61, of Burbank, to 21 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Kesoyan’s husband, Grigor Kesoyan, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to time served.
According to evidence presented at trial, Kesoyan, a long-time Social Security Administration (SSA) employee in Sacramento, abused her position as a claims representative to create false documents and to falsify government records in an attempt to help Movseysan commit fraud in two naturalization applications. Kesoyan also served as Movsesyan’s translator during two naturalization interviews and assisted him in making false sworn statements during those interviews. When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers began to investigate the false statements, Kesoyan and Movsesyan produced additional false documents and encouraged others to lie to immigration officials in an effort to obstruct the investigation.
In imposing a nearly five-year sentence, Judge Burrell expressed his hope that the sentence would send a message to others who might engage in immigration fraud, obstruct government investigations, and abuse their positions of public trust as government employees. Judge Burrell stated that Kesoyan had “demonstrated contempt for the law, those who enforce it, and the legal process.” Describing Kesoyan’s conduct as “egregious,” Judge Burrell further found that Kesoyan’s abuse of her position as an SSA employee “undermined the fair, effective manner under which agencies are intended to operate and undermined trust in public records.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nirav K. Desai and Jeremy J. Kelley are prosecuting the case.