San Jose – Another group of Indian Americans was sentenced to prison for their role in a case of H1-B visa fraud scheme and other related crimes by the US District Judge Lucy H. Koh. this week according to court documents.
Earlier, a federal grand jury had indicted Venkat Guntipally, 49, his wife, Sunitha Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, and two other defendants, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev., and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016. The indictment contained charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.
Venkat Guntpally was now sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in this conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents, and mail fraud.
“Through this multi-year conspiracy, Mr. Guntipally and his co-conspirators exploited foreign workers for profit, defrauded the United States, and engaged in brazen obstruction of justice,” announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse. “Today’s sentence reflects that such crimes harm the nation’s immigration system and erode public trust. This office will continue to prosecute defendants who are out to make an unlawful profit and abuse our immigration laws for purely personal gain,” added Attorney Tse.
Venkat Guntpally pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017, at which time he admitted that he and his wife founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. In addition, Guntipally admitted that between approximately 2010 and 2014, he and his wife, together with others, submitted to the government more than one hundred fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies.
“Unscrupulous actions by employers to gain an unfair advantage will not be tolerated and HSI will commit its resources to stop these types of criminals from gaming our immigration system to line their pockets with money at the cost of others,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) in northern California and northern Nevada.
The scheme’s intended purpose was to create a pool of H-1B workers who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere. Through this scheme, Venkat Guntipally, along with his co-conspirators, gained an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms, and the Guntipallys earned millions in ill-gotten gains.
“As the lead agency in this investigation, the Diplomatic Security Service demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the integrity of US visas. We pursue those who fraudulently use worker visas, like the H-1B, for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Perlman. “Diplomatic Security Service’s strong relationship with our law enforcement partners and the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice,” the statement added.
The end-client companies listed in the fraudulent H-1B applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers. In addition, none of the listed companies ever intended to receive those H-1B workers. Venkat Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the US Department of State Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents.