Former owner and operator of tech staffing company sentenced to prison for wire, visa fraud
PHILADELPHIA – The former owner and operator of Virgo Inc. and Isync Solutions, Inc., was sentenced April 19 following convictions for wire and visa fraud. The sentencing follows a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), which includes the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and ICE HSI.
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, Ramesh Venkata Pothuru, 44, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison to the aforementioned violations. Mr. Pothuru collected over $450,000 in illegal filing fees and related expenses from more than 100 fraudulent visas and employer-sponsored green cards for nonimmigrant workers from his native India.
The investigation disclosed that between 2010 and 2013, Pothuru collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in filing fees from workers he was sponsoring under the H-1B nonimmigrant worker visa program. Federal regulations prohibit employers from soliciting payments from H-1B nonimmigrant workers to cover the costs associated with filing fees, which fees are required by law to be borne by the sponsoring U.S. employer. In addition, many of the H-1B nonimmigrant workers were also recipients of employer-sponsored permanent foreign labor certification applications filed by Pothuru with the Department of Labor. Permanent foreign labor certification filings typically involve costs of over several thousand dollars in addition to the filing fees; Pothuru unlawfully collected both from the employees.
Pothuru collected these illegal fees and expenses from the employees he sponsored for H-1B visas and green cards through direct payments to his personal bank accounts. He subsequently submitted false applications in which he did not identify the fees that he collected from the nonimmigrant workers and swore that he did not collect.