San Jose, California – One, out of four indicted Indian-Americans, was sentenced here on Tuesday (Nov. 28) for her role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including H-1B visa fraud according to law-enforcement officials.
The main accused Sunitha Guntipally was sentenced to 52 months in prison for her role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents, mail fraud, and witness tampering,
While handing down the sentence, US District Judge Lucy H. Koh, also ordered Sunitha Guntipally to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a $50,000 fine.
In sentencing Sunitha Guntipally, Judge Koh stated that the defendant’s crime does “damage to the rule of law.” Judge Koh stated that the defendant’s conduct “undermines respect for our legal immigration system” and does “tremendous damage to our institutions and affects the rights of others to immigrate to the United States.”
Earlier, a federal grand jury indicted Sunitha Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, and three co-defendants, Venkat Guntipally, 49, of Fremont; Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev.; and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016.
Sunnah Guntipally pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on May 3, 2017. Each of Sunitha Guntipally’s co-defendants had already pleaded guilty to his respective roles in the scheme. Judge Koh sentenced Ramireddi to 14 months’ imprisonment and Kondamoori to 20 months’ imprisonment for their respective roles earlier this year. Venkat Guntipally, Sunitha Guntipally’s husband, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2018, at 9:15 a.m.
In connection with her guilty plea, Sunitha Guntipally admitted that she along with her husband Venkat Guntipally founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. She admitted that between approximately 2010 and 2014, she and her co-defendants submitted more than one hundred additional fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies.
Moreover, the court documents noted the end-client companies listed in the fraudulent H-1B applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers. “None of them ever intended to receive those H-1B workers. These applications were designed and intended to create a pool of H-1B beneficiaries who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere,” the note read.
According to documents from the Department of Justice, the conspirators “earned money from these downstream companies for themselves and their companies,” by gaining an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms. In addition, Sunitha Guntipally admitted that she obstructed justice, and directed her co-defendant to do the same, in an effort to mislead the agents, and conceal the conspiracy.
The sentencing was announced by the United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch; US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin; and US State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge Matthew Perlman.