Fort Stockton Teacher Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme
In Pecos, George Mariadas Kurusu, a 58-year-old Indian national and a Fort Stockton Independent School District (FSISD) teacher, pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a wire fraud scheme involving the hiring of Indian nationals to teach in the United States announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Steven Grell, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and Michael V. Perkins. Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Office, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service.
Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge David B. Fannin yesterday, Kurusu pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud; one count of fraud in foreign labor contracting; one count of tampering with a witness, victim or an informant; and, one count of making a false statement on a visa application. By pleading guilty, Kurusu admitted that from December 2012 to May 2016, he defrauded several individuals out of more than $50,000 for a “visa package” provided by a company he owned which promised H1-B visas, teaching jobs, and the maintenance of those jobs and visas for his victims.
According to court records, Kurusu, a H1-B visa holder, established a separate business, Samaritan Educational Services (Samaritan), which he personally obtained financial benefits in violation of his visa. Kurusu also lied on an application to renew his visa. However, Kurusu began placing advertisements in a newspaper in Hyderabad, India, providing services for a fee to individuals who were seeking teaching positions in the United States. Kurusu led applicants to believe that they had to go through his business in order to both obtain a visa and a job. Kurusu inserted himself between the applicant and both the State Department, issuer of visas, and the FSISD, who paid for the visa and did the hiring. Kurusu, through his business, had the victims pay large fees on the pretext they were solely to be used to complete paperwork and none would go to him. Kurusu paid those nominal fees, but pocketed the rest. The victims initially set up all the paperwork for the visa and to obtain a job at FSISD then provided Kurusu such information along with other personal information. Kurusu, in promoting his scheme, used this information to place a buffer between the victims and both the State Department and FSISD. Kurusu further insured his scheme was not revealed when he ordered the victims not to mention to the State Department they enlisted the services of Samaritan and not to contact FSISD directly, but only through him.
When the victims arrived in the United States, in particular within the FSISD, Kurusu had the victim’s set up a bank account and an Electronic Transfer of Funds (ETF) where 15% of their monthly paychecks, before taxes, were wired to Kurusu’s Samaritan business bank account. Kurusu advised the victims this was for consulting fees, then later for his “services” to make sure they had continuous employment and to maintain their visas-- two things of which Kurusu had no control. When the victims began questioning the arrangement, Kurusu warned the victims that if they did not pay, they would lose their jobs and their visas; and again, advised them not to contact the FSISD otherwise they would jeopardize all H1-B visa holders in the district. FSISD was unaware of the defendant’s scheme.
Kurusu became aware an investigation was being conducted, he went to the victims and informed them not to talk to law enforcement. Kurusu told them that if they did speak to law enforcement, he, them, and all the other H1-B visa holders in the district would lose their jobs, lose their visas, and be deported.
Kurusu faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest in May 2016. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.
This investigation was conducted by agents with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Dallas Regional Office, the U. S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, Houston Field Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol in Fort Stockton, Texas. Assistant United States Attorney James J. Miller, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.