SAN FRANCISCO – Buyantod Thomas was sentenced on July 9, 2015, to six months in prison, for aiding and abetting the submission of fraudulent asylum applications, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Tatum King.
Thomas, 30, of Concord, Calif., pleaded guilty on March 27, 2015, to a one count indictment filed on January 27, 2015, charging her with knowingly aiding and abetting a person to make a false statement in an asylum application. Asylum applications generally are submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in cases where removal from the United States would be contrary to law. To qualify for asylum, applicants must demonstrate that their removal would put them at significant risk based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, membership in a particular social group, or on account of a torture convention. In this case, Thomas admitted she helped Mongolian nationals apply for asylum based on fictitious stories and false documents.
At sentencing, the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Judge found that Thomas assisted in filing at least 25 fraudulent asylum applications. In sentencing Thomas, Judge Illston emphasized the need for deterrence for crimes of this nature, explaining: “I find these to be very serious crimes. The asylum system is such a precious system we have and if it’s abused in the way that it was abused here, then it won’t be used anymore and we won’t have it… [this case] is really damaging to the immigration system that we have in place.” In addition to the prison term, Judge Illston also sentenced Thomas to a three year period of supervised release. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on September 4, 2015.
This case was prosecuted by the Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations San Francisco Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.