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Press Release

Four South Bay Residents Charged In Wide-Ranging Visa Fraud, Loan Fraud, And Money Laudering Operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Alleged conspiracy includes charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering

SAN JOSE – Two residents of Cupertino and two residents of Sunnyvale were indicted, along with seven business entities they allegedly owned, in connection with conspiracy that included visa fraud and mail fraud, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian Stretch, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Tatum King; Abel Salinas, Special Agent in Charge Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General; and U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Zebley.

In an indictment unsealed yesterday, Ragini Vecham, 36, of Cupertino; Kishore Pallapothu, 42, of Cupertino; Satyanarayana Tota, 45, of Sunnyvale; and Ramana Reddy, 44, of Sunnyvale, were indicted for their part in an alleged conspiracy by which individuals used companies to fraudulently submit fraudulent H-1B visa applications and other documents to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor.  The companies indicted include Horizon Technologies, Inc., Softnet Technology Solutions, Inc., Rose Hayward LLC, Sage 20 Hayward LLC, Jasmine 20 Hayward LLC, Tulip 26 Hayward LLC, and Lily 20 Hayward LLC.

According to the indictment, since at least 2006, Vecham and Pallapothu held themselves out as staffing specialists for technology firms based in Santa Clara County.  Along with Tota, they allegedly submitted fraudulent documents to DHS and DOL in connection with applications for H-1B visas.  The documents, according to the indictment, contained false representations and material omissions.  For example, several of the documents allegedly falsely stated that Atiric Software was a legitimate business with a legitimate need for H-1B beneficiaries, a statement which was not true.  Also according to the indictment, as part of the scheme, Vecham and Pallapothu created and funded numerous limited liability companies for the purpose of purchasing commercial and residential real estate to conceal funds generated from the illegal visa fraud and conceal assets from the Government investigation.  Vechum and Pallapothu allegedly also fraudulently obtained several loans to finance the purchases that were then titled in the names of the limited liability companies.

The indictment also describes criminal behavior undertaken by the defendants to avoid having the conspiracy exposed.  For example, the indictment contains allegations that Vecham, Pallapothu, and Tota lied to federal law enforcement authorities when interviewed about the visa fraud.  Pallapothu is also charged with attempting to persuade visa beneficiaries to provide false and misleading information to federal agents, including allegedly providing visa beneficiaries with false facts about job offers they were supposed to have received and facts about jobs they were supposed to have performed.   

Vecham, Pallapothu, Tota, and Reddy all are charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit visa fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  In addition, Vecham and Pallapothu are charged with thirteen counts of visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546; thirteen counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; five counts of loan fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014; one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and two counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.  Additionally, Pallapothu and Tota are charged with one count each of obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505, and Pallapothu is charged with two counts of witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512. 

The individual defendants made their initial appearances in federal court yesterday and were released pursuant to various individual bond restrictions.  All the individual defendants are next scheduled to appear on September 17, 2015, for further status before U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose.

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 maximum term of imprisonment for conspiracy to commit fraud is 5 years; the maximum term of imprisonment for visa fraud is 10 years; the maximum term for imprisonment for mail fraud is 20 years; the maximum term of imprisonment for money laundering is 10 years; the maximum term for obstruction of justice is 5 years; the maximum term for loan fraud is 30 years; the maximum term for wire fraud is 20 years; and the maximum term for witness tampering is 20 years.   Additional periods of supervised release, fines, and special assessments also could be imposed.  Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Lucey is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen and Yolanda Singletary.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service; and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.

Updated September 13, 2017

Financial Fraud
Labor & Employment