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Document and Benefit Fraud
08/19/2014

Bay Area businessman sentenced for employment visa fraud scheme

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A Cupertino businessman was sentenced to 10 months' confinement and ordered to forfeit $100,000 for orchestrating a fraud scheme involving high-tech workers, following a probe by the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Balakrishnan Patwardhan, 54, pleaded guilty in March to 19 counts of visa fraud as originally charged in an indictment handed down last year. In pleading guilty, Patwardhan admitted that between July 2008 and October 2010, he knowingly submitted false immigration forms and supporting documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services seeking to obtain H-1B visas for 19 applicants. In those visa petitions, Patwardhan falsely represented that the applicants had high technology job offers with Gilead Sciences in Foster City, an American employer, when in reality he knew the applicants did not have such job offers. Patwardhan also admitted he had included altered contracts and false statements of work he created in connection with the fraudulent visa applications.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila sentenced Patwardhan to 10 months' confinement, consisting of five months in prison and five months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Davila also ordered Patwardhan to pay a $100,000 monetary judgment constituting the proceeds he received as a result of the visa fraud scheme. Patwardhan was ordered to surrender to begin serving his sentence by Jan. 15, 2015.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli, aided by Laurie Worthen. The two are assigned to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Jose. The charges stem from a probe spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), which is overseen by HSI.

The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.