Owner Of Information Technology Companies Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Visa Fraud And Tax Fraud
NEWARK, N.J. – An owner of two information technology companies was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for his role in using phony documents to fraudulently obtain H1-B visas for foreign workers and submitting false tax returns, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Sowrabh Sharma, 34, of New York, New York, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and with subscribing to false tax returns. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. offered consultants to clients in need of IT support. Both companies recruited foreign nationals with purported IT expertise, often student visa holders or recent college graduates, and sponsored them for H-1B visas with the stated purpose of working for SMC Data and MMC Systems’ clients throughout the United States.
Sharma admitted that from 2010 through April 2015, he and others falsely represented to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that dozens of foreign workers had full-time “in-house” positions, and would be paid an annual salary, as required to secure the visas. However, Sharma and his companies only paid the foreign workers when they were placed at a third-party client, or a company that entered into a contract for services with SCM Data and MMC Systems. Sharma further admitted that he and SCM Data and MMC Systems were violating USDOL regulations by not paying workers who were “benched,” or not working on a project.
Sharma also admitted that in some instances, foreign workers who were “benched” between projects and not working were told that if they wanted to maintain their H-1B visa status, they would need to come up with what their gross wages would be in cash and give it to SCM Data and MMC Systems to generate phony payroll checks.
Sharma also admitted that he intentionally overstated and claimed false expenses pertaining to SCM Data and MMC Systems on his U.S. Individual Tax Returns for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 that resulted in a tax loss to the United States of over $1.1 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Sharma to one year of supervised release. Sharma made payment of the $1.1 million tax loss and penalties to the IRS prior to sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael: the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, in New York: IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of John R. Tafur; and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, under the direction of John E. Thompson, District Director of the Newark District, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joyce M. Malliet of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: John P. Lacey Esq. and Leo J. Hurley Esq., Newark