Remaining Defendants In Foreign Worker Fraud Scheme Sentenced
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced that the remaining two defendants in a foreign worker fraud scheme were sentenced today in Scranton before U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo.
Sudheer Bandi, age 45 and Ram Challa, age 44, both received sentences of time served. They were ordered to serve two years of supervised release and forfeit $1.9 million. Both were residing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, beginning in 2007, Bandi, Challa, and others engaged in a visa fraud and money laundering scheme by falsifying documentation required to obtain H-1B visas and establishing “shell” companies to give the appearance that they were operating legitimate computer programming businesses.
Through the course of the scheme, checks were issued from bank accounts held by shell companies and deposited into accounts in the name of JMR Technologies, Inc. The transfers created an appearance of revenue for JMR Technologies, Inc., and a portion of the monies were paid to Challa and Bandi using checks that appeared to be paychecks issued by JMR Technologies, Inc. Because Challa and Bandi appeared to have working full-time at JMR Technologies, Inc., they were able to defraud the foreign labor certification program and maintain their H-1B visas.
The H-1B Specialty Occupation Program assists employers in competing in the global market by allowing them to access highly qualified individuals to work in special occupations on a temporary basis. In order to obtain such a visa the employer must comply with strict regulations and obtain approval from various government agencies. In this matter, members of the conspiracy provided false and fraudulent information to government agencies in order to obtain H-1B work visas for themselves and other individuals. In effect, members of the conspiracy who had obtained H-1B Specialty Occupation visas and who were reported to be working as computer programmers and technicians were instead working a gas station clerks in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area.
Bandi and Challa were charged in November 2009 and pleaded guilty December 2009. Others charged in relation to this scheme include the following:
Ranga Junuthula, age 43, of Montvale, New Jersey, was charged in April 2010 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both visa fraud and money laundering. Junuthula was sentenced in October 2010, to 14 months’ imprisonment, $5,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Junuthula was ordered to forfeit $1,900,000.
Ramana Bandreddi, age 43, of Herdon, Virginia, was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the giving of false statements in naturalization, citizenship, or registry of aliens. Bandreddi was sentenced in January 2012, to one year probation and a $3,500 fine. Bandreddi was also ordered to forfeit $14,025.
Krishna Koteru, age 44, of Parlin, New Jersey, was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the giving of false statements in naturalization, citizenship, or registry of aliens. Koteru was sentenced in January 2012, to one year probation and a $3,000 fine. Koteru was also ordered to forfeit $21,865.68.
Ravi Kumar Nakirikanti, age 40, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy provide false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Nakirikanti was sentenced in March 2013, to one year probation and a $3,000 fine. Nakirikanti was also ordered to forfeit $122,340.
Venkat Varkala Reddy, age 42, of Edison, New Jersey, was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Reddy was sentenced in February 2013, to one year probation and a $2,000 fine. Reddy was also ordered to forfeit $1,496.
Raja Voggu, age 43, of Devon, Pennsylvania, was charged in June 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy provide false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Voggu was sentenced in December 2012, to one year probation. Voggu was also ordered to forfeit $28,563.54.
The cases were investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-Office of Fraud Detection and National Security with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd K. Hinkley.