AUSTIN, Texas — The head of a local staffing business was sentenced on Tuesday to 41 months in federal prison in connection with an H-2B visa fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pittman, Western District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jose Ramiro Vicharelly, 55, of Cedar Park, Texas, was the president and executive director of International Staffing Solutions Inc., doing business as, Texas Staffing Resources (TSR). In addition to the prison term, he will be placed on supervised release for three years after he completes his prison term. Vicharelly was also ordered to forfeit about $312,000 in criminal cash proceeds and five vehicles derived from this illegal scheme. A $1 million monetary judgment was ordered against Vicharelly and the other four defendants in this case, which represent the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme.
Vicharelly pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and one count of conspiracy to encourage aliens to illegally enter and reside in the United States. Vicharelly admitted that he and others had conspired since August 2004 to knowingly obtain H-2B visas under false pretenses.
According to the court records, the defendants approached several Austin businesses and offered to obtain H-2B visas for foreign nationals to work for their companies, or obtain visas for the illegal aliens already working in their companies. Unbeknownst to employers, the defendants then submitted fraudulent visa petitions with forged signatures or bogus supporting documentation requesting significantly more foreign workers than required or requested by employers. The defendants sold excess slots on visa petitions to other illegal aliens in the Austin area for between $1,500 and $2,200 per slot.
The defendants also traveled to Mexico to help aliens prepare and submit immigration forms, coaching them on what to say when interviewed by U.S. consulate officials, and collect final payments from undocumented aliens.
Following are the four other defendants in this case: Vicharelly's wife, Irma Lopez Vicharelly, 29; his daughter, Angela Paola Faulk, 32; Faulk's husband, Servando Gonzalez, Jr., 25, of Austin; and, former TSR account manager, Pedro Saul Ocampo Munguia, 44, of Pflugerville, Texas, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. In November 2011, Judge Yeakel sentenced Faulk to 17 months in federal prison; Irma Vicharelly and Gonzales each received two years probation. Munguia failed to appear for sentencing and is considered a fugitive.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dan Guess, Jennifer Freel and Garth Backe, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.