Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Prasad owned and operated Maremarks, through which he filed petitions seeking H-1B status for nonimmigrant, foreign workers in specialty occupations to come to the U.S. as Maremarks’ employees performing work for Maremarks’ clients. Prasad falsely represented in the H-1B petitions that there were specific, bona fide positions available for the H-1B beneficiaries. Prasad was convicted of 21 counts of visa fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1546(a), and two counts of aggravated identity theft, 18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1). The district court ordered forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(6)(A)(ii): $1,193,440.87.The Ninth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Prasad’s argument that he did not “obtain” the entire $1,193,440.87 because he eventually paid portions of the money to the H1B beneficiaries. Prasad possessed the full $1,193,440.87 paid by the end-clients and had control over the money before he paid a percentage of it to employees. Considering the term “proceeds” in the context of the forfeiture statute, the statute’s punitive purpose, and its prior construction of virtually identical criminal forfeiture provisions, the court concluded that the term extends to receipts and is not limited to profit. Although the H-1B beneficiary employees performed legitimate work for end-clients, the portions of the money that Maremarks received for that work and subsequently paid to the beneficiary employees was, nonetheless, “obtained directly or indirectly from” Prasad’s unlawful conduct. View "United States v. Prasad" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Rad and others were charged with acquiring penny stocks, “pumping” the prices of those stocks by bombarding investors with misleading spam emails, and then “dumping” their shares at a profit. Rad was convicted of conspiring to commit false header spamming and false domain name spamming under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), 15 U.S.C. 7701(a)(2), which addresses unsolicited commercial email. The PSR recommended raising Rad’s offense level to reflect the losses inflicted on investors, estimating that Rad realized about $2.9 million in “illicit gains” while acknowledging that because “countless victims” purchased stocks, the losses stemming from Rad’s conduct could not “reasonabl[y] be determined.” Rad emphasized the absence of evidence that any person lost anything. Rad was sentenced to 71 months’ imprisonment. The record is silent as to how the court analyzed the victim loss issue. The Third Circuit affirmed. DHS initiated removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), which renders an alien removable for any crime that “involves fraud or deceit” “in which the loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000.” The IJ and the BIA found Rad removable.The Third Circuit remanded. Rad’s convictions for CAN-SPAM conspiracy necessarily entail deceit under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(M)(i). The second element, requiring victim losses over $10,000, however, was not adequately addressed. The court noted that intended losses, not just actual ones, may meet the requirement. View "Rad v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Grayson does business under the name Gire Roofing. Grayson and Edwin Gire were indicted for visa fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1546 and harboring and employing unauthorized aliens, 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii). On paper, Gire had no relationship to Grayson as a corporate entity. He was not a stockholder, officer, or an employee. He managed the roofing (Grayson’s sole business), as he had under the Gire Roofing name for more than 20 years. The corporate papers identified Grayson’s president and sole stockholder as Young, Gire’s girlfriend. Gire, his attorney, and the government all represented to the district court that Gire was Grayson’s president. The court permitted Gire to plead guilty on his and Grayson’s behalf. Joint counsel represented both defendants during a trial that resulted in their convictions and a finding that Grayson’s headquarters was forfeitable. Despite obtaining separate counsel before sentencing, neither Grayson nor Young ever complained about Gire’s or prior counsel’s representations. Neither did Grayson object to the indictment, the plea colloquy, or the finding that Grayson had used its headquarters for harboring unauthorized aliens.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Although Grayson identified numerous potential errors in the proceedings none are cause for reversal. Grayson has not shown that it was deprived of any right to effective assistance of counsel that it may have had and has not demonstrated that the court plainly erred in accepting the guilty plea. The evidence is sufficient to hold Grayson vicariously liable for Gire’s crimes. View "United States v. Grayson Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant Sara Salcido provided immigration services. Under the Immigration Consultant Act (Act), with certain exceptions, it is illegal for a person to act as an “immigration consultant” (as defined in the Act) unless he or she has complied with a host of consumer protection requirements, such as passing a background check and filing a bond. Defendant failed to comply with these. As a result, defendant was convicted on one count of misdemeanor unlawfully engaging in the business of an immigration consultant. The State argued, however, that each time defendant took money from a client in exchange for providing immigration services, she was committing theft by false pretenses, because she was not a legally qualified immigration consultant under state law. The trial court agreed; thus, it also convicted her on six counts of grand theft, and two counts of petty theft. It dismissed two additional counts of grand theft as time-barred. Defendant was placed on probation for five years. Defendant contended the Act was preempted by federal law. She demurred to the complaint on this ground. The Court of Appeal determined federal law did not preempt the application of the Act to defendant. View "California v. Salcido" on Justia Law

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McClure-Potts contacted police about Samarin, who entered the U.S. without inspection from Ukraine. McClure-Potts claimed she was trying to adopt Samarin, who was 19 years old and that Samarin had been “speaking of Hitler against the Jews” and might have stolen a rifle. McClure-Potts provided a birth certificate indicating that Samarin was born in 1992. Police discovered that McClure-Potts had previously filed runaway reports regarding a minor son (Asher) apparently born in 1997; Samarin was posing as Asher and attending high school. The school provided a sworn statement from McClure-Potts that Samarin was born in 1997, with applications for free/reduced lunch and health benefits. Samarin claimed that he had moved in with McClure-Potts, then was told to cut ties with his family and surrender his money and his identification documents. He was forced to do household work. McClure-Potts obtained a Social Security card for "Asher," and used it to procure $7,336 in income tax credits and $13,653.28 in nutritional and health benefits. McClure-Potts was charged with Social Security Fraud, 42 U.S.C. 408(a)(6); Harboring an Illegal Alien, 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii), (a)(2); and Unlawful Conduct Respecting Documents in Furtherance of Forced Labor, 18 U.S.C. 1589, 1590. McClure-Potts pled guilty to the Social Security Fraud and Harboring counts. Based on the amount of loss ($20,989.28) and the court’s refusal to grant an offense level reduction due to the claim that her fraud was committed “other than for profit," she was sentenced to five months. The Third Circuit affirmed. The benefits that McClure-Potts sought and received were “payment” for her harboring Samarin. View "United States v. McClure-Potts" on Justia Law

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Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles will not register or transfer a vehicle title unless the buyer furnishes a Social Security number. For corporations and similar entities, it requires a federal employer identification number (EIN). It is possible to obtain an EIN without having a Social Security number. Aliens whose visas do not allow them to work in the U.S. and aliens who lack authority to be in the U.S. can get an EIN. Defendants established a business that obtained an EIN, registered a limited liability company, and submitted the required paperwork and fees, using clients’ real names and addresses. Clients paid $350, which included fees for the BMV. Defendants were convicted of conspiracy (8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I)), to violate 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (iv) by shielding unauthorized aliens from detection and encouraging them to reside in the U.S. and conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349. The Seventh Circuit reversed and vacated. The Count One convictions could be sustained only if provision of any service—food, medicine, transportation—to an unauthorized alien is a felony. To convict of mail or wire fraud, the false statements must have deprived a victim of “money or property.” There was no allegation that title papers and licenses are Indiana’s “property.” View "United States v.Reyes" on Justia Law

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Haldar, an Indian citizen, came to the U.S. in 1999 and has been a permanent resident since 2006. He founded GVS-Milwaukee, a Hare Krishna religious society and, from 2004 to 2007, GVS sponsored 25 applicants for religious-worker “R-1 visas,” 8 C.F.R. 214.2(r)(1), 17 of which were approved. In 2007 the State Department advised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that GVS-Milwaukee might be involved in visa fraud. DHS also received a similar anonymous tip and began an investigation that included temple visits, surveillance, searches of Haldar’s luggage on international trips, and interviews with GVS-sponsored visa recipients. In 2010 Haldar was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. under 18 U.S.C. 371. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments (not raised in the district court) that certain statements from the prosecutor and a government witness improperly called into question the validity of his temple and were unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403; the prosecutor misrepresented testimony during his closing argument and relied on facts outside the record; and the district court on its own initiative should have instructed the jury not to scrutinize the religious qualifications of the visa recipients. View "United States v. Haldar" on Justia Law

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Defendant, manager of a kosher meatpacking company, was convicted of 86 counts of bank, wire, and mail fraud; making false statements to a bank; money laundering; and violations of an order of the Secretary of Agriculture. Defendant appealed his convictions and sentence. The court held that there was no evidence in the record that the district court's decision to remain on the case prejudiced defendant's verdict and concluded that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a new trial. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in trying the financial charges first where the district court's order was a practical solution given the nature and number of the charges. The court further held that, with the exception of one count of false statements to a bank which was premised solely on violations of immigration law, any error on this evidence would have been harmless because it would have had no effect on the verdict. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its wide discretion in excluding evidence. The court finally held that, because defendant's offense was falsely stating that the company was in compliance with its laws, the court did not commit plain error with its instruction on harboring illegal aliens; defendant's money laundering convictions were lawful and did not merge with any other of his crimes; there was no error in the district court's loss calculation; and the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion in imposing a 324 month sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Rubashkin" on Justia Law