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Document and Benefit Fraud

Michigan psychiatrist pleaded guilty to citizenship fraud

DETROIT - Chilakamarri Ramesh, M.D., 54, of West Bloomfield, Mich., pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit naturalization fraud after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Between 1999 and 2001, Ramesh worked at a Dearborn, Mich., immigration clinic known as "Four A's Hope Global Psychological Evaluation Center." While employed there, he performed psychiatric evaluations on naturalization applicants seeking U.S. citizenship. Immigrants seen by Ramesh were falsely diagnosed with mental retardation, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning disabilities, and/or dementia.

These diagnoses were then submitted to the then Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on documents called "N-648 waivers." The waivers allow a naturalization applicant to gain U.S. citizenship without passing the English-proficiency portion of the naturalization exam. Ramesh also conducted psychiatric evaluations and signed N-648 waivers for immigrants in other cities, traveling to Cleveland, St. Louis, and Chicago.

"Becoming an American citizen is a privilege, not a right," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Detroit. "Obtaining citizenship through fraud is an affront to every person who has played by the rules. ICE special agents will continue to work with our partners in the U.S. Attorney's Office to ensure that those who use criminal and dishonorable means to achieve the most honorable of goals are brought to justice."

Ramesh admitted to conspiring with Walid Salah, Ph.D., also of Four A's Hope. Ramesh told Judge Julian Abel Cook Jr. that he signed blank N-648 waivers knowing that Salah would complete the documents with false information about the applicants before submitting them to the then INS. Saleh has been a fugitive since 2003 and is believed to be in Jordan.

According to the N-648 waivers, Ramesh has been an assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University since 1990 and chairman of the department of psychiatry at St. John's Hospital since 1998. He is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult Psychiatry.

Ramesh faces up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for August 18 at 1 p.m. before Judge Cook.