Telugu businessman jailed for H-1B visa fraud in US

The indictment contains charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.

By Author  |  Published: 22nd Jun 2018  1:08 pmUpdated: 22nd Jun 2018  2:21 pm
visa fraud
Representational image.

Hyderabad: A Telugu businessman, Venkat Guntipally, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in the United States for his role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents and mail fraud.

According to reports in the local media there, a federal grand jury had indicted Venkat Guntipally, 49, his wife, Sunitha Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, and two others, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment on May 5, 2016. The indictment contains charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.

Venkat Guntipally had 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 2010 and 2014, he and his wife, together with others, submitted to the government more than 100 fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies. 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 the listed companies ever intended to receive those H-1B workers.

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 Guntipally’s earned millions in ill-gotten gains. Venkat Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money, according to the report.

Venkat Guntipally was charged with conspiracy, visa fraud, using false documents, and mail fraud. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and the remaining charges were dismissed.

In addition to the prison term, the Judge ordered Venkat Guntipally to serve three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $500,000. Venkat Guntipally was ordered to self-surrender on or before June 14, 2019.

All three of Venkat Guntipally’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme. Last year, Sunitha Guntipally was sentenced to 52 months in prison, Ramireddi to 14 months’ imprisonment, and Kondamoori to 20 months’ imprisonment for their respective conduct.

The prosecution is a result of collaboration between USCIS’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, the US Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the reports added.