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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 6, 2016

Bay Area And Nevada Residents Charged With Visa Fraud Conspiracy, Mail Fraud, Witness Tampering, And Related Crimes

SAN JOSE – Sunitha Guntipally, Venkat Guntipally, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, and Sandhya Ramireddi were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, use of false documents, and mail fraud, among other offenses, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin, and U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Zebley.  Sunitha Guntipally and Ramireddi also were charged with witness tampering, and Kondamoori was charged with obstruction of justice.  The four defendants were charged in a 33-count indictment filed yesterday alleging crimes in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas. 

According to the indictment, the four defendants allegedly used three California corporations to orchestrate the improper submission of more than one hundred H-1B visa applications.  The indictment identifies Venkat and Sunitha Guntipally, of Fremont, as a husband and wife team who founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms.  Venkat Guntipally served as the president of both companies, and Sunitha Guntipally served as the vice president.  Kondamoori, of Incline Village, Nev., is alleged to be the founder and owner of SISL Networks.  Kondamoori’s sister, Ramireddy, of Pleasanton, is alleged to have been the human resources manager and operations manager of all three companies.    

The H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers Program allows an employer to temporarily employ a foreign worker in the United States on a nonimmigrant basis in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the specific specialty.  According to the indictment, the defendants submitted to the government, or caused to be submitted, H-1B visa application materials stating that the foreign workers named in the applications would be placed at specific companies in the United States.  However, according to the indictment, those companies either did not exist or never intended to receive the foreign workers named in the defendants’ applications.  For example, the indictment alleges that between approximately 2012 and 2013, DS Soft Tech and Equinett submitted approximately 22 separate petitions, signed under penalty of perjury, for H-1B workers to be placed at a company called SemSolar, Inc., operated by Kondamoori.  Although the petitions and supporting documents stated that the foreign workers would be placed at SemSolar to work on a specific software product, the defendants allegedly knew that SemSolar was not working on that product, the defendants did not intend to place any of the H-1B workers at SemSolar, and none of the workers who received H-1B visas through the defendants’ scheme ever worked at SemSolar.  Further, according to the indictment, between approximately 2010 and 2014, the defendants’ companies submitted more than one hundred additional fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies.  The indictment alleges that through their ownership, direction, and control of DS Soft Tech and Equinett, the Guntipallys generated net profits from 2010 to 2014 of approximately $3.3 million and gross profits of approximately $17 million. 

All four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, false statements, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a); use of false documents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(3); mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and aiding and abetting these offenses, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2.

In addition, Kondamoori, Sunitha Guntipally, and Ramireddi are charged in connection with alleged efforts to conceal the defendants’ conduct. 

According to the indictment, Kondamoori responded to federal law enforcement officers investigating the visa fraud conspiracy with various false representations.  Kondamoori allegedly represented that, among other things, he and SemSolar were developing a product called “Eftia Master.Scribe” for which he required H-1B workers; that Softbank, Sprint’s parent company, was both an investor in SemSolar and a business partner of SISL Networks; and that Kondamoori was a general partner of Focus Ventures.  According to the indictment, all of those representations were false.  Kondamoori is charged with one count of obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505.

According to the indictment, on at least four occasions, Guntipally either provided H-1B foreign workers with false documents or advised the workers to mislead government agents.  In each instance, the indictment alleges, Guntipally’s objective was to hinder, delay, and prevent the beneficiary from communicating truthful information to government agents.  Ramireddi also is alleged to have advised an H-1B worker to mislead a government agent for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or preventing the government investigation.  Sunitha Guntipally is charged with four counts and Ramireddi with one count of witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3).

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum sentences:

DEFENDANT

STATUTE

CHARGE

MAXIMUM PENALTY

All Defendants

18 U.S.C. § 371

 

Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud, False Statements, Mail Fraud, Obstruction of Justice, and Witness Tampering

Maximum term of imprisonment: 5 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Forfeiture

Possible Deportation

 

All Defendants

 

18 U.S.C. § 1546(a)

Visa Fraud

Maximum term of imprisonment: 10 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Forfeiture

Possible Deportation

 

All Defendants

 

18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(3)

Use of False Documents

Maximum term of imprisonment: 5 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Possible Deportation

 

All Defendants

 

 

18 U.S.C. § 1341

Mail Fraud

Maximum term of imprisonment: 20 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Forfeiture

Possible Deportation

Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori

18 U.S.C. § 1505

Obstruction of Justice

Maximum term of imprisonment: 5 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Possible Deportation

 

Sunitha Guntipally

and

Sandhya Ramireddi

18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3)

Witness Tampering

Maximum term of imprisonment: 20 years

Maximum fine: $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater

Maximum term of supervised release: 3 years

Possible Deportation

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonas Lerman is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Nina Burney.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.
 

 

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Immigration
Updated December 27, 2016