An Indian-American woman from Texas was given a multi-year prison sentence and most of her property, including jewelry is being taken away by the state, after a federal judge in Central Islip, New York, sentenced her today (July 17, 2019).
Hema Patel, a Texas-based bail bondswoman, was sentenced by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley to three years in prison for her role in smuggling hundreds of illegal aliens into the United States, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The Court also ordered Patel to forfeit her Texas residence, two hotels, $7.2 million in bail bonds, $400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars, among other assets.
Patel pleaded guilty on June 7, 2018, to alien smuggling for financial gain by fraudulently bonding illegal aliens from immigration custody and causing their release into the United States.
“For her personal financial gain, defendant Hema Patel arranged to have hundreds of aliens smuggled into the United States, completely by-passing the visa application and eligibility requirements,” United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue is quoted saying in the press release.
From April 2015 through October 2016, Patel and her co-conspirators conducted a scheme to bring undocumented aliens, primarily from India, into the United States in exchange for “fees” ranging from approximately $28,000 to $60,000 per person.
She along with others, paid middlemen, or “coyotes,” to arrange the logistics of the aliens’ travel, either a northern route through Canada, or a southern route through Mexico.
When the aliens were stopped and taken into custody by law enforcement officers at the U.S. border, they called Patel. Patel then prepared fraudulent bond documents on their behalf, including documents listing fictitious names and addresses indicating where and with whom the aliens would reside while their cases were pending.
These documents and the bail bonds were then filed in United States Immigration Courts, and the aliens were released into the community.
Patel used two of her hotels in Texas to temporarily harbor some of the aliens.
On November 17, 2016, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Patel’s Texas residence, seizing thousands of fraudulent alien bonding records.
On November 30, 2017, Patel’s co-defendant Chandresh Kumar Patel (not related to Hema Patel) pleaded guilty to smuggling aliens for financial gain for his role in the scheme as an alien trafficker and financial broker. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement agents recovered $80,000 from his Queens residence. On October 5, 2018, Chandresh Kumar Patel was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.