NEW YORK – An Indian national Jatinder “Bobby” Singh was sentenced last month by Judge Linda V. Parker, to time served and ordered to pay $81,197 in restitution for a conspiracy to commit $1.3 million wire fraud involving food stamps after he claimed that he would face an “honor killing” if he were deported back to India, according to mlive.com.
In December 2017, when an immigration court denied Singh asylum in the United States, his attorney, Kimberly W. Stout, filed a motion requesting that the judge allow him to withdraw his plea in the case.
“His position is that he was confused about the system and some of the total consequences, but the judge and prosecutors both believe they made that clear on the record in court. This is a very sad situation and I’m just very disappointed with immigration and our current administration. He has two American children … he’s fearful to return,” Stout said adding that if the 31-year-old former Flint liquor store employee was forced to return to India, then he would be killed by his wife’s family.
In April 2017, Singh pleaded guilty to aiding a food stamp scheme that was operating at Paradise House of Liquor in Flint, Michigan, in attempt to stay in the United States after he said that he would face “horrendous circumstances” if he returned to India.
“This is obviously a very troubling situation. He was very much used and preyed upon in this case … He has two children here and now he doesn’t know what going to happen,” Stout added.
According to Stout’s filing, Singh fled to the United States from India in 2008 after being targeted by his wife’s family for an “honor killing” — a killing carried out on one who is accused of bringing shame to their family, which he did as they married without permission because his wife was of a different ‘culture’ and was even beat up by his wife’s father and threatened with death after he proposed to her.
The couple then obtained visas to the United States in 2008 and lived in New York City for almost seven years before moving to Flint in 2014 with their 6 and 8-year-olds.
While working at the Paradise Liquor House, Singh’s visa expired and he no longer had a legal status in the U.S. and in 2017, finally pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before Flint U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker, along with Lakhbir “Lucky” Chahal and Tony “Paco” Price.
According to mlive.com, in July, Parker sentenced Chahal, the owner of both Liquor Plus and Paradise House and the accused ringleader in the scheme, to spend between 3.5 and 4.5 years in prison, while Price was put on probation.
At both liquor stores, Chahal would pay customers $0.50 in cash in exchange for each dollar of their food stamps benefits and would also exchange benefits for ineligible items such as cigarettes and alcohol, authorities told mlive.com.
He would then illegally use the food stamp benefits to purchase the stock for his stores.
Singh worked for Chahal at Paradise Liquor from February to October of 2015 during which he bought Bridge Cards from beneficiaries of the food stamps as well as buy inventory for Paradise House of Liquor as directed by Chahal, according to court documents.
In 2016, Flint police ended up padlocking both liquor stores following a rash of shootings at the businesses.
Although Singh waived his right to appeal his sentence when he pleaded guilty to the charges against him, he may still file an appeal on the judge’s ruling on a technicality, Stout told mlive.com.