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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ocean City Man Sentenced For Immigration Fraud

Received a Total of $210,000 to Assist Approximately 70 Individuals in
Fraudulently Applying for Asylum

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Gasim Manafov, age 36, of Ocean City, Maryland, and Charlotte, North Carolina today to 18 months in prison followed by a year of supervised release for conspiring to commit immigration fraud.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.

“Benefit fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States under a guise of legitimacy,” said HSI Ocean City Resident Agent in Charge Francis J. McGarvey. “HSI will work with our partners at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in an effort to maintain the integrity of the immigration system by vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals like Gasim Manafov, who try to exploit the asylum process.”

According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to 2012, Manafov conspired with others in assisting approximately 70 individuals in fraudulently applying for asylum benefits. Manafov gave the individuals fake stories to describe how the applicant’s family was purportedly hurt or killed due to political or ethnic affiliation. He provided fake foreign documents to prove these stories. Manafov prepared the applicants for interviews with officials, and attended the interviews. He also referred an applicant to a co-conspirator knowing that they would engage in a fraudulent marriage for immigration purposes, suggested that the applicant apply for immigration benefits in the Miami U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office to avoid the scrutiny he knew he was under in the Baltimore USCIS office, and coached the applicant on how to lie to officials interviewing her.

Manafov obtained $210,000 from the individuals fraudulently applying for asylum benefits.

Two other conspirators previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to one and three months in prison, respectively.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the HSI Baltimore and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry M. Gruber, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 26, 2015