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Document and Benefit Fraud
02/11/2009

Immigration attorney convicted in fraudulent asylum scheme

Coached aliens to tell false stories of fear of persecution

GREENBELT, MD - A jury convicted Patrick G. Tzeuton, 42, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today for conspiracy to prepare false asylum applications, immigration fraud and obstruction of official immigration proceedings in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents led this investigation with assistance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.

"Any attempt to obtain an immigration benefit by deception and fraud is a serious matter and it is particularly disturbing when it is committed by an immigration attorney," said Scot R. Rittenberg, acting special agent in charge for ICE in Baltimore. "With our partners in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Attorney's Office, ICE will continue to identify, arrest, and bring to justice those involved in these illegal schemes."

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said, "Patrick Tzeuton fabricated asylum applications and advised aliens to tell false stories to immigration officials. The immigration process is not supposed to be a game in which people gain U.S. citizenship by making up the most compelling story."

Tzeuton operated a law firm known as the Law Offices of Patrick Tzeuton & Associates located at 8121 Georgia Avenue, Suite 102 and 8401 Colesville Road both offices in Silver Spring. Tzeuton employed Henri Nzone as his office manager. Tzeuton represented hundreds of clients as an attorney in immigration matters before U.S. immigration officials.

According to testimony at the four week trial, from May 2002 to at least October 2005, Tzeuton and Nzone prepared false asylum applications, together with false and fraudulent supporting affidavits and documents, and presented them U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Witnesses at trial testified that the asylum applications contained false statements regarding (1) the alleged basis for the alien's fear of future persecution in the alien's home country; (2) the date and circumstances of the alien's entries into the United States; and (3) the alien's marital status, spouse, and children.

Testimony showed that Tzeuton submitted multiple asylum applications to immigration officials containing similar and, in some instances nearly identical, fraudulent affidavits and other supporting documents and coached the aliens as to the false statements in their applications to prepare them for meetings with immigration officials and appearances in immigration court.

According to trial testimony, Tzeuton demanded and collected payments from aliens to prepare and to present the fraudulent asylum applications, to prepare documents submitted in support of the false applications, to prepare the aliens for asylum interviews and court appearances, to prepare and file appeals, and for other services relating to the false and fraudulent asylum applications.

Tzeuton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy; ten years in prison for immigration fraud; and 20 years in prison for obstruction of official proceedings. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for April 29, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. Tzeuton is detained until his sentencing.

Co-defendant Henri Marcel Nzone, a/k/a Henri Marcel Nzone Nguessa, 44 of Spencerville, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and obstruction of official immigration proceedings.