TOPEKA, KAN. – Nine students from Nepal who attended Kansas State University have been indicted on charges of visa fraud and conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
A grand jury indictment unsealed today alleges the students conspired to maintain their non-immigrant visas by making false statements that they possessed funds to pursue their proposed course of study and support themselves and their dependents. The defendants, each of whom is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and 25 counts of visa fraud, are:
Mahendra Thapa, 33 years old.
Khem Acharya, 41 years old.
Raj Kumar Dani, 37 years old.
Santosh Ghimire, 37 years old.
Lila Ballav Pandey, 41 years old.
Laxman Pokhrel, 37 years old.
Keshar Prasain, 38 years old.
Govind Paneru, 32 years old.
Narayan Chapagain, 43 years old.
The indictment alleges that beginning in the fall of 2008 all nine students obtained temporary possession of financial resources for the purpose of obtaining statements from financial institutions to support their false claims that each personally had the needed funds. Each of the students temporarily obtained funds from fellow Nepalese students and deposited the funds in their bank accounts. After obtaining a notarized bank letter, they returned the funds to the other students.
If convicted, each of the defendants faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.