Indian American sentenced for H1-B visa fraud

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Indian American Sunitha Guntipally was sentenced to 52 months in prison for her role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, and use of false documents, mail fraud, and witness tampering, according to the Justice Department.

Guntipally pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on May 3, and the sentence was handed down by the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Judge.

Along with Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, a grand jury also indicted he three co-defendants, Venkat Guntipally, 49, of Fremont; Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nevada and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016 for the submission of fraudulent applications for H1-B work visas.

The Justice Department confirmed that Guntipally also admitted that she and her husband Venkat Guntipally founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms and that between 2010 and 2014, she and her co-defendants submitted more than 100 additional fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other supposed companies.

These companies either never existed or didn’t employee H1-B visa workers and the H-1B visa applications were designed with the intention to create a pool of H1-B beneficiaries who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere, allowing Guntipally and her husband to earn money from these companies.

In addition, Guntipally admitted that she obstructed justice and directed her co-defendant to do the same, in an effort to mislead the agents and conceal the conspiracy.

According to the Justice Department, Guntipally was charged with one count of conspiracy, ten counts of substantive visa fraud, seven counts of using false statements, four counts of mail fraud and four counts of witness tampering, though she only pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge while the remaining charges were dismissed.

During the sentencing Judge Koh stated that the defendant’s crime does “damage to the rule of law.” Judge Koh stated that the defendant’s conduct “undermines respect for our legal immigration system” and does “tremendous damage to our institutions and affects the rights of others to immigrate to the United States.”

In addition to the prison term, Judge Koh also ordered Guntipally to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a $50,000 fine.

Judge Koh also sentenced Ramireddi to 14 months in prison and Kondamoori to 20 months in prison while Venkat Guntipally is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2018, at 9:15 a.m.