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Document and Benefit Fraud

Pennsylvania woman sentenced for role in asylum fraud

PHILADELPHIA - Nelly Katsman, 41, of Holland, PA, was sentenced February 5 to one year and one day for her role in the asylum fraud scheme brought against her and five others announced Acting United States Attorney Laurie Magid. Katsman pleaded guilty in September 2008 to one count of conspiracy and one count of visa/asylum fraud. The charges stem from the investigation of a business that was operated by David Lynn and that submitted at least 380 bogus asylum applications to the United States government between January 2003 and March 2007.

Federal immigration law permits individuals who have suffered persecution or who would be persecuted upon return to their homeland, to apply for asylum in the United States. Asylum may be granted based on persecution because of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group. Lynn and his co-defendants were creating bogus applications that claimed their clients qualified for asylum when they did not. In return for a hefty fee, the defendants submitted the applications and coached the clients on how to handle their interview with immigration officials.

Defendant Lynn pleaded guilty in October 2008 and is awaiting sentencing. Defendant Ilya Zherelyev pleaded guilty in November 2008 and was sentenced on January 9, 2009, to 24 months in prison. Defendant Anatoly Zagrinichny pleaded guilty in October 2008 and is awaiting sentencing. Defendants Yevgeny Zemlyansky and Akbar Kadirov are awaiting trial.

The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General's Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development; with support from Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, Department of State Diplomatic Security Services, the Northampton Township Police Department, and the Upper Southampton Township police.