NEWARK–Nilesh Dasondi, owner of Sterling System LLC (formerly Cygate Software & Consulting) and a former member of the Edison Township Zoning Board, was sentenced last week to six months in prison for money laundering, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The crime was in connection with the trafficking in immigration documents used to procure H-1B visas and green cards for ineligible or unqualified Indian nationals, according to Fishman.
Dasondi, 44, of Edison, was one of seven individuals charged in a June 2008 criminal complaint with conspiracy to defraud the United States. As owner of the Edison-based Cygate, an information technology company, Dasondi petitioned federal agencies for both H-1B visas and green cards on behalf of individuals including his six co-defendants – all Indian nationals – claiming that these individuals possessed specialized information technology skills and that they would work for Cygate once in the United States.
H-1B visas are issued by the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and permit qualified alien workers entry into the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation, such as information technology consulting, requires alien workers to meet certain educational and professional requirements and an employer’s petition on their behalf. The number of petitions filed each year far exceed the limited number of H-1B visas available, so they are valuable to alien workers and a potential source of illicit profit to corrupt employers. Securing an H-1B visa often represents the first step in obtaining permanent lawful residency via a green card and, ultimately, U.S. citizenship.
Despite Dasondi’s representations in petitions to federal agencies, none of his six co-defendants performed any work for Cygate and instead were instructed by Dasondi to secure cash-paying jobs in the locations of their choice. Dasondi then engaged in a process known as “running the payroll,” whereby the visa recipients were put on Cygate’s payroll so that they appeared as legitimate employees, and then made to remit monthly payments to Cygate. Those payments were used in part to pay the visa recipients back, as falsified proof of compliance with the terms of their visa requirements and in order to apply for green cards. Other portions of the payments were used to pay Cygate payroll taxes owed the government, to perpetuate the trafficking in immigration documents, or pocketed as profit by Dasondi.
Dasondi admitted that he had accepted lump sum payments from his co-defendants for procuring H-1B visas and, in some cases, green cards, and that he had engaged in “running the payroll” with the same individuals in order to create a falsified record of employment, as well as for personal profit. Dasondi also admitted that he used the proceeds of these and other illegal payments from his co-defendants to conduct financial transactions – including paying Cygate-related expenses.
Dasondi’s six co-defendants previously pleaded guilty: Ajit Vyas, 40, of Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Kishor Parikh, 42, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; Vimal Patel, 36, of Maricopa, Ariz., Chetan Trivedi, 40, of Ronkonkoma; Hetal Shah, 38, of Ringwood and Devang Patel, 31, of Ronkonkoma. Each admitted to engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the government by paying Dasondi to have Cygate sponsor them for H-1B visas and, in some cases, green cards, based on falsified qualifications. They also admitted that they had “run the payroll” with Dasondi in order to acquire false records such as pay stubs indicating that they were performing work for Cygate when, in fact, they were not. All were sentenced to terms of probation and face collateral immigration consequences.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge William J. Martini sentenced Dasondi to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine. Dasondi also agreed to forfeit an additional $296,921.82.
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