Immigration Lawyer Indictments Expose H-1B Fraud


The California law firm

ASK Law Group
, formerly known as Korenberg,
Abramowitz & Feldun (KAF), is in big trouble. It was
recently indicted for immigration fraud of a somewhat
unusual kind—H-1B visas. Two Los Angeles area bodyshops,
as the

massive H-1B labor contractors
are called, have also
been linked to the fraud scheme.

Several lawyers were
indicted. At least one of them,

Dan E. Korenberg
is a card-carrying member of the

American Immigration Lawyers Association


(AILA)
. Many of those who participated in the fraud
ring have already pleaded guilty. But Korenberg and his
partner

Steven Rodriguez
said they are going to fight the
charges. [Two
immigration attorneys indicted in visa fraud case

By Dan Laidman Copley News Service March 2, 2007]

A March 1 Department of
Justice

press release
quotes Robert Schoch, Special Agent in
Charge for the ICE office of investigations in Los
Angeles, saying that, "the fact that the defendants
in this case earned their living

practicing immigration law
makes the charges
particularly disturbing"
.

Schoch may be disturbed
but he shouldn`t be surprised. The standards of the

immigration bar
are

remarkably low.

KAF did several things
that could land the defendants in jail. These three
could be the most damning:

1)   KAF filed for H-1B visas while the aliens
worked and were

paid in cash.
This was a sneaky way of keeping the
aliens

off the books
until the visas could be issued. At a
minimum KAF and the bodyshops violated the

Code of Federal Regulations
(20 CFR 655.705), which
forbids employers to hire the alien before the H-1B visa
is approved. They probably also violated

tax codes,
which ultimately could be a

bigger problem
for them. As we all know, immigration
violations aren`t taken very seriously by the federal
government. But tax evasion is.

2)   KAF and the bodyshops are accused of
falsifying the qualifications of their alien paralegals.
This charge is rather weak because there is nothing to
stop law firms from hiring paralegals, secretaries, or
whatever else on H-1B visas—it`s not that uncommon. The
Dept. of Justice claims that the law firm filed Labor
Condition Applications for computer/IT professionals but
used the visas for
paralegals
. Falsified applications would be in
violation of regulations that require employers to state
accurately what type of job the

H-1B visa
will be used for and what qualifications
and skills are needed for the job (20 CFR 655.805).

Most companies nailed for this sort of obscuration get
light penalties, such as debarment from hiring H-1Bs for
6 months to a year. The KAF attorneys might beat this
accusation by claiming that they wanted paralegals who
had

Java computer programming
experience or secretaries
with

advanced engineering degrees.

3)   The DOJ press release says that
"Employment-based visas normally are issued when a
business in the United States needs a person to fill a
specific job and is unable to find a qualified employee
in the U.S. labor pool."
The key phrase here: "normally
are issued
"
. That isn`t a legal requirement,
it`s wishful thinking. . Employers don`t have to
consider Americans first unless they are

designated as H-1B dependent
, (according to

Dr. Norm Matloff

only
one-tenth of
1% of the companies are H-1B
dependent, which means that more than 15% of their
employees are H-1Bs) or they have been deemed a willful
violator of H-1B regulations in the past.

Hopefully the US
Attorney`s understanding of H-1B isn`t as weak as the
press release indicates!

How much trouble are
these immigration attorneys in? Recent H-1B fraud cases
in

Michigan
and

Texas
have resulted in mere slaps on the wrist for
those who were convicted. But this one could be more
serious. Some of the participants in the fraud ring
could actually get some prison time—and perhaps even be
barred from practicing law. The cigar chompers at AILA
could even kick Korenberg out of

their old boys club,
which might be the ultimate
humiliation.

The difficulty with
cases such as these is that federal sentencing
guidelines are very complex and subject to the whims of
the court. But Korenberg and Rodriguez engaged in fraud
that was blatant and lucrative. A source close to the
investigation explained that there is lots of evidence
on tape, and there is even a photo of an undercover
operative shaking hands with Rodriguez after he got an
illegal visa. 

Korenberg and Rodriguez
will make their initial appearances in United States
District Court in Los Angeles on March 29, this
Thursday. They intend on taking this case to trial. It
should be quite a show.

Rodriguez hired a lawyer
named

Errol Stambler
who claims that there was "no
criminal intent whatsoever"
.  Of course, that
would be the expected response of a defense lawyer.
Stambler handles cases dealing with corporate fraud and
money laundering, so he seems to be a perfect fit for
the job.

If convicted of the
charges in the indictment, Korenberg faces a maximum
statutory penalty of 225 years in federal prison.
Rodriguez faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Insiders suggest that they will more likely only get
three years in the pokey but even that might not happen
if the courts go easy on these guys.

Philip Abramowitz, a
partner in the firm who has not been charged,
defended himself in the Asian Journal. [Abramowitz
Speaks Out: Lawyer sheds light on cases filed vs firm

Amee R. Enriquez and Momar G. Visaya, March 12th, 2007]
He claimed the possibility of 225 years in prison for
his partner
must
be "a typo because this is not some major scheme to
defraud thousands of people. It`s not the type of
scheme.”
Obviously, 225 is simply a multiple
of 15, but the larger legal point is that this is a
major scheme to

defraud the United States of America,
which is not
thousands of people, but (unfortunately)

300 million.

One question that never
seems to be asked in these types of cases: where are the
aliens who came here with fraudulent visas—why aren`t
they rounded up and deported?

The DOJ is using this
case to demonstrate that it is

protecting American workers
by rooting out fraud.
But the aliens who arrived under false pretenses are
presumably still here taking jobs that Americans need.
And nobody knows what else they may be up to—crime,

spying
,

terrorism
.

In fact, most of the
aliens who came here will probably be allowed to stay.
Marie Sebrechts at the USCIS announced that it would
only revoke visas of aliens that were complicit. In
other words, the illegals get to keep their fraudulent
visas and stay in the United States unless the USCIS can
prove that they were co-conspirators. The burden of
proof is on our government, not the aliens who flouted
our immigration system. [2
attorneys charged with work visa fraud
. By Anna
Gorman, LA Times March 2, 2007]

It gets worse!

About 20 aliens will get

immunity and permanent resident visas
for testifying
against KAF. Most of them are from countries known for
terrorist activity—the

Philippines
,

Indonesia
,

Syria
and

Egypt
.

Do we really want to
allow these aliens into our country?

A last point: The threat
of deportation and/or jail time gives these criminal
aliens a huge incentive to say anything the prosecution
tells them to. As

Paul Craig Roberts
has pointed out, it`s very
questionable to use

witnesses who are known lawbreakers
. Look at the

kangaroo court
that accepted the testimony of an
illegal alien drug smuggler to convict border patrol
agents

Ramos and Compean.
It would be far better if this
type of deal-making would cease and some semblance of
integrity could be restored to

our legal system.
It`s just more evidence that
America`s immigration disaster is overwhelming our
institutions.





Rob Sanchez (
email
him) is a Senior Writing Fellow for




Californians for Population
Stabilization

and author of the "Job
Destruction Newsletter"
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