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Document and Benefit Fraud
01/26/2012

Head of New York law firm extradited for immigration fraud

NEW YORK – The alleged ringleader of a massive immigration fraud mill was extradited from Canada to face charges in Manhattan Federal Court. This extradition stems from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG).

Earl Seth David, aka Rabbi Avrahom David, allegedly operated a massive immigration fraud mill – through a Manhattan-based law practice – in which David and his co-conspirators applied for legal status for tens of thousands of illegal aliens based on phony claims that U.S. employers had "sponsored" those aliens for employment in the United States. 

David and the other participants in the scheme took in millions of dollars in illicit proceeds from the illegal aliens who utilized their services.  David, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, was arrested in Canada on Oct. 11, 2011, when the indictment against him was unsealed.  David faces charges of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, conspiracy to make false statements to immigration authorities, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, from 1996 until early 2009, Earl Seth David, 47, operated a Manhattan-based immigration law firm (the David Firm) that took in millions of dollars through a long-running scheme to charge exorbitant fees to the Firm's alien-clients, in return for procuring legal immigration status for them based on false claims that U.S. employers had "sponsored" the aliens for employment.

United States law permits an alien to petition for legal status if the alien has obtained a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certifying that a U.S. employer wishes to employ, or "sponsor" the alien.  An alien who obtains DOL certification can then use it to petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain legal status in the United States.  As alleged in the indictment, in return for fees of up to $30,000 per alien-client, the David Firm applied for, and obtained, thousands of DOL certifications based on false employment sponsorships and fabricated documents, including fake pay stubs, fake tax returns, and fake "experience letters," purporting to show that the sponsorships were real, and that the aliens possessed special employment skill sets justifying labor-based certification by DOL.  In reality, the sponsors had no intention of hiring the aliens, and the sponsor companies often did not even exist other than as shell companies for use in the fraudulent scheme.  As a result of the fraud, DOL issued thousands of certifications, and immigration authorities granted legal status to thousands of the David Firm's clients, when such adjustments were unwarranted and otherwise would not have been made.  To date, the government has identified at least 25,000 immigration applications submitted by the David Firm – the vast majority of which have been determined to contain false, fraudulent, and fictitious information.

In furtherance of the scheme, David and his employees recruited many people to participate, including dozens of individuals who, in exchange for payment, agreed to falsely represent to DOL that they were sponsoring aliens for employment; corrupt accountants who created fake tax returns for the fictitious sponsor companies; and a corrupt DOL employee who helped ensure that DOL certifications were granted based upon the fraudulent applications.

David continued to operate the scheme, from behind-the scenes, even after he was suspended from the practice of law in New York State in March 2004.  David fled to Canada in 2006 after learning that his firm was under federal criminal investigation.  Nevertheless, illicit profits from the scheme continued to be funneled to him in Canada, including through a bank account in the name of a biblical treatise he had authored entitled "Code of the Heart." The David Firm ceased operations in early 2009, when federal search warrants were executed at several locations associated with the firm.