Hall of Shame of Indian Americans in 2018

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NEW YORK – The year 2018 was no different than other years when it came down to the black sheep in the community: the individuals who got into the limelight for their nefarious, evil deeds, and schemes.

There were no dearth of Indian Americans, and Indian-origin individuals in the US who faced trial in court for their misdeeds. Some of them got lengthy sentences, and are atoning for their deeds in prison. They will get to celebrate the new year either in solitary confinement, or with other inmates.

In no particular order are some of the individuals who broke the law, in 2018:

Prabhu Ramamoorthy

Ramamoorthy, living in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and on a work visa, was sentenced December 13, to 9 years in prison after having been convicted of sexual abuse aboard an aircraft.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider announced the stiff 9-year sentence meted out to Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 35, who will be deported “once he has served his sentenced”.

According to evidence presented at trial, on January 3, 2018, Ramamoorthy engaged in a sexual act with a female, while she was sleeping.  During the trial, the government admitted evidence demonstrating that Ramamoorthy digitally penetrated the woman sleeping next to him during an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit.  The sexual assault woke her up, she found her pants unbuttoned and unzipped, and she sought help from the flight attendants.

Shockingly, Ramamoorthy’s wife was seated next to her husband when the incident took place.

Arun Aggarwal

Aggarwal, a former doctor at Dayton Children’s Hospital, pleaded guilty to four counts of gross sexual imposition, to which the pediatric gastroenterologist had previously pleaded not guilty to the allegations of improperly touching the breasts of two teenage female patients.

“Between Dec. 23, 2013, and Nov. 10, 2014, the defendant, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, inappropriately touched teens during medical examinations. The inappropriate touching was not a medically necessary part of the examination,” said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck in a statement.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Aggarwal was on a work visa and will voluntarily return to India if he is not deported, after his 10-month sentence, four of which he has already served while awaiting his trial.

“This gives him certainty and ends a very difficult saga in his life and he’s eager to get back to India and move ahead,” said Samuel Shamansky, Aggarwal’s attorney.

According to the court filing, along with the sentence, Aggarwal may also face financial sanctions of up to $5,000 on each count as well as a prison term of 18 months on each count.

The agreement says that he will be a Tier 1 offender, which means that he will be unable to reside within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool or daycare and must register his address every year for the next 15 years.

Aggarwal, 40, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in August when he was allegedly attempting to flee the country after he was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury; he is currently in the Montgomery County jail and is being held on a $500,000 bond.

The Dayton Daily News reports that though Aggarwal practiced at Dayton Children’s Hospital where he was hired in December 2013, he was employed by Wright State University who terminated him in September 2015 after his hospital admitting privileges lapsed during the police investigation.

Aggarwal was also stripped of his medical license last summer by the State Medical Board of Ohio.

Nik Patel

Indian American businessman Nik Patel of Florida was sentenced to 25 years in prison on March 6 in a federal courtroom in Chicago for committing a fraud of $179 million real estate fraud, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

In 2016, Patel admitted to committing a fraud of $179 million by conducting a sale of 26 fake loans to Pennant Management, a Milwaukee investment firm.

According to his plea, Patel submitted these false documents to Pennant showing that a portion of the loans were guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but in fact, were actually fabricated and had no borrower, no pre-existing loan and no government guarantee.

Patel then used the cash he made and put it towards his hotel projects in Illinois and Florida as well as into his own lifestyle.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, Patel owned luxury vehicles including a Rolls Royce and a Lamborghini, a private jet which he used to travel the world including multiple trips to Panama where he “blew off steam” and visited brothels, and wore custom suits and jewelry.

In Illinois, the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund (IMET), an investment fund popular with local governments, schools and park districts, lost more than $50 million as they had invested in Pennant and more than 200 municipalities, school districts, park districts and other public entities in the Chicago area were affected by Patel’s actions.

Last year, Patel convinced U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, to let him remain free on bond while he was awaiting his sentence and said that he would help authorities reclaim the money lost for his victims however, he was actually plotting an escape to Ecuador with his family when he was arrested by the FBI in January.

According to court documents, Patel’s elaborate plan for an extravagant new life in Ecuador included luxury vehicles, a million-dollar home in the suburbs of Quito, a private chef and an English-language school for his four daughters.

Patel was also planning another fraud at the same time as he used the name “Ron Elias” and posed as a vice president of Banco do Brasil to sell more than $19 million in bogus loans to investors in Iowa and even created a fake website and email address to help convince his victims.

With a total of $35 million in ‘dirty money,’ Patel was planning to buy diamonds from Dubai but was caught at Kissimmee Gateway Airport near Orlando on Jan. 6 when he tried to flee the country.

Baljinder Singh

Baljinder Singh, 43, from Carteret, New Jersey became the first naturalized Indian American citizen to be stripped of his U.S. citizenship under the Trump administration.

According to the Justice Department, Singh flew into San Francisco in 1991 with no travel documents or proof of identity and gave his name as Davinder Singh,

He then dodged a subsequent court hearing, ordering him to be deported in January 1992 but a month later he filed for asylum under the name Baljinder Singh, which he then abandoned after getting married to his American wife in 2006, automatically becoming a naturalized citizen.

AFP reported that a federal judge in New Jersey revoked his naturalization, reverting him back to lawful permanent resident, which means that he can be subject to removal proceedings.

The Justice Department said that this was the first denaturalization under Operation Janus, a long-running Department of Homeland Security initiative against fraudulent immigration and the government did file a complaint against Singh last September.

Last September the initiative identified 315,000 cases where fingerprint data was missing, raising concerns about the naturalization process, the USCIS plans to prosecute 1,600 other cases.

Shivam Patel

Shivam Patel, 28, an Indian American, pleaded guilty on February 8 to two counts of making false statements to the FBI.

In September of 2016, while conversing with an FBI informant, Patel expressed admiration for a U.S. Army officer who had shot and killed 13 soldiers on Fort Hood, Texas, according to court documents.

He then tried to join the U.S. Army and Air Force later that year and in the application process, he lied to military recruiters about a recent trip he had taken to Jordan in a failed attempt to make contact with the Islamic State and join a “real Muslim Army,” court documents further stated.

According to court documents, Patel was raised a Hindu. But after taking a trip to China in July 2016 to teach English, Patel converted to Islam as he was displeased with how China was treating Muslims.

His employer then arranged for Patel to fly back to Virginia on August 23, 2016. But instead Patel took a detour and decided to travel to Jordan in hopes of joining the Islamic State.

Even when FBI official searched through Patel’s computer last year, they found that he had researched how to join the Islamic State before he left for China, according to court documents.

According to court documents, Patel was captured while in Jordan and Jordanian officials had him deported on September 2, 2016, from where he flew to Chicago and then Detroit, the next day, where he met an FBI source and started talking about the Islamic State.

He explained to the FBI source that he had gone to Jordan in part to find like-minded Muslims because he wanted to do something “bigger, better, and more purposeful” such as dying in the cause of Allah, but was afraid of disappointing his parents, which he eventually did.

Patel also discussed his desire to see a holy war between Muslims and non-Muslims; he sang an Islamic State fight song as well and recalled making a replica of the Islamic State flag which he wanted to replace his neighbor’s American flag with, according to court documents.

According to court documents, Patel returned to his hometown, Williamsburg, Virginia on September 6, 2016 and moved into a motel that his parents owned.

He started applying for jobs with the military, as well as police and fire departments and correctional facilities and probation offices, while he still stayed in touch with the FBI source he had met.

According to court documents, he then texted the source Sept. 23, 2016, to express support for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 soldiers in 2009 while serving at Fort Hood. He, however ended up misidentifying Hasan as Nidal Hussein, who happened to die as a martyr, when in fact he is alive and on military death row, along with claiming that the shooting happened at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Dr. Bharat Patel

Dr. Bharat Patel, 71, of Milford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty at the New Haven federal court June 25, to narcotics distribution and health care fraud offenses.

In pleading guilty, Patel admitted that he wrote hundreds of medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone, and received $158,523.95 as a result of this and related criminal conduct, a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said.

The Indian-American physician pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Patel also agreed to forfeit $158,523.95 to the government.  He also agreed to forfeit and surrender his federal controlled substances registration to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2011 to July 2017, Patel was a physician operating out of Family Health Urgent Care, formerly known as Immediate Health Care, located on Main Street in Norwalk.  During this time, he saw numerous patients who had no legitimate medical purpose to see Patel and only came to his medical practice in order to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances, primarily hydrocodone or oxycodone, the press release says.  Some of those patients were enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare and paid for Patel’s services, and had the prescriptions paid for, by those programs.

Patel knew, and also was advised by pharmacists and his staff, that the prescriptions he was providing to his patients were medically unnecessary, prosecutors contended.  On numerous occasions, the Indian-American doctor wrote prescriptions to patients who paid him $100 in cash for each prescription.  At times, he provided patients medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone or hydrocodone, which he left at a liquor store next door to his practice, according to prosecutors.  Patients retrieved the prescriptions by exchanging an envelope with cash in it for the prescriptions, the press release said.

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