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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Social Security Administration Employee Found Guilty of Conspiring to Commit Immigration Fraud and Falsifying Government Records

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A claims representative for the Social Security Administration in Sacramento, was found guilty today in federal court for conspiring to commit immigration fraud and falsifying government records, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

After four days of trial, a jury convicted Nelli Kesoyan, 45, of Rancho Cordova, of one count of conspiring to make false statements in a matter related to naturalization and citizenship and to obstruct, impede, or influence a pending agency proceeding, and one count of falsifying government records. The trial was held before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

According to evidence presented at trial, in January 2014, Kesoyan conspired with others to make false statements in Vanik Movsesyan’s application for naturalization, submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Kesoyan’s co-conspirators included her husband, Grigor Kesoyan and Movsesyan, both of whom pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.

Kesoyan and her co-conspirators agreed to make false statements under oath to USCIS regarding Movsesyan’s residence. Kesoyan used her position with SSA to repeatedly access Movsesyan’s SSA file and create fraudulent letters to support Movsesyan’s naturalization application. When a USCIS immigration officer continued to question whether Movsesyan actually lived in Sacramento (in fact he lived in Burbank, California), the conspirators began creating and submitting additional false documents to support the lies. Kesoyan again used her job at SSA to, access Movsesyan’s SSA file and create yet another fraudulent letter in September 2014, submitted in support of the lies to USCIS. Kesoyan also had another individual, who could not read or write in English, notarize an affidavit written in English that claimed Movsesyan lived at his house in Sacramento; this affidavit was also submitted to USCIS.

As the evidence at trial showed, Kesoyan engaged in additional misconduct. When USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security officers conducted a November 17, 2014, site visit at Movsesyan’s purported Sacramento residence, Kesoyan got on the phone with the actual resident and directed him to lie to USCIS officers. Concerned that the resident was not saying what he was supposed to say, Kesoyan also sent her husband, Grigor Kesoyan, and another individual to the residence to make statements to USCIS officers.

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 Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nirav K. Desai and Jeremy J. Kelley are prosecuting the case.

After the verdict, Kesoyan was taken into custody. Movsesyan and Grigor Kesoyan previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy. On March 3, 2017, Grigor Kesoyan was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release.

Nelli Kesoyan and Movsesyan are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Burrell on April 27, 2018. Kesoyan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Press Release Number: 
2:15-cr-236 GEB
Updated February 1, 2018