San Francisco, California- An Indian American Abhijit Prasad, 52, of Tracy, was convicted of 21 counts of visa fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft by a grand jury.
US Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California and US Attorney McGregor W. Scott for the Eastern District of California made the announcement, and the verdict was handed down on August 5, after a one-week trial before Charles R. Breyer, United States District Judge.
“Homeland Security Investigations remains laser focused to conduct document and benefit fraud investigations, arresting and bringing to justice individuals, like Prasad, who seek to undermine and abuse the laws of the United States,” said Tatum King, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (San Francisco and Northern California). “These types of fraudulent activities pose a severe threat to national security and public safety as it creates vulnerabilities for terrorists and other criminals to exploit. HSI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate such criminal activities and will hold violators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the evidence at trial, Prasad, filed 19 petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant visas containing false statements, made under penalty of perjury, as to purported work projects to be performed at locations in California, including Cisco Systems.
“This verdict sends a strong message: the Diplomatic Security Service is committed to making sure those who commit visa fraud face consequences for their criminal actions,” said Matthew Perlman, Special Agent in Charge of the DSS San Francisco Field Office, adding, “Diplomatic Security’s strong relationship with the US Attorney’s Office and with the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice.”
According to the evidence presented at the trial, Cisco had no expectation that the foreign workers who were the beneficiaries of the visa petitions would actually work at Cisco on an existing work project. The evidence at trial further showed that the defendant knowingly submitted forged Cisco documents to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in support of his claims that the beneficiaries would work at Cisco. The evidence at trial also showed that Prasad fraudulently used the digital signature of a Cisco employee, who was not authorized to sign Cisco employment documents, to create a document that would leave the impression that two of the H-1B workers had an existing work project at Cisco. Prasad obtained two of the H-1B visas using this fraudulent document that purports to be a fully executed Cisco contract.
Judge Breyer scheduled Prasad’s sentencing hearing for October 16, 2019. Prasad faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the visa fraud. He faces a two-year mandatory prison sentence and a $250,000 fine for aggravated identity theft counts. Additional fines, forfeitures, and restitution may be ordered.
Assistant US Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Michael A. Rodriguez are prosecuting the case. The case is the product of an investigation by the US Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), overseen by Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.