Huge H1B Visa Fraud Investigation Nets Four in Bay Area, Nevada

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San Jose – Four Indian Americans were charged in a 33-count indictment filed last week alleging crimes in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.

Sunitha Guntipally, Venkat Guntipally, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, and Sandhya Ramireddi were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, use of false documents, and mail fraud, among other offenses according to court documents.

According to the indictment documents obtained by Indian American Times, the four defendants allegedly used three California corporations to orchestrate the improper submission of more than one hundred H-1B visa applications.

The indictment identified Venkat and Sunitha Guntipally, of Fremont, as a husband and wife team who founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. Venkat Guntipally served as the president of both companies, and Sunitha Guntipally served as the vice president. Kondamoori, of Incline Village, Nev., is alleged to be the founder and owner of SISL Networks. Kondamoori’s sister, Ramireddy, of Pleasanton, is alleged to have been the human resources manager and operations manager of all three companies.

The H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers Program allows an employer to temporarily employ a foreign worker in the United States on a nonimmigrant basis in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the specific specialty.

The defendants submitted H-1B visa application materials stating that the foreign workers named in the applications would be placed at specific companies in the United States. However, according to the indictment, those companies either did not exist or never intended to receive the foreign workers named in the defendants’ applications.

Citing an example, the court documents show that between approximately 2012 and 2013, DS Soft Tech and Equinett submitted approximately 22 separate petitions, signed under penalty of perjury, for H-1B workers to be placed at a company called SemSolar, Inc., operated by Kondamoori.

“Although the petitions and supporting documents stated that the foreign workers would be placed at SemSolar to work on a specific software product, the defendants allegedly knew that SemSolar was not working on that product, the defendants did not intend to place any of the H-1B workers at SemSolar, and none of the workers who received H-1B visas through the defendants’ scheme ever worked at SemSolar,” the indictment read.

Further, according to the indictment, between approximately 2010 and 2014, the defendants’ companies submitted more than one hundred additional fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies. The indictment noted, “Through their ownership, direction, and control of DS Soft Tech and Equinett, the Guntipallys generated net profits from 2010 to 2014 of approximately $3.3 million and gross profits of approximately $17 million.”

In addition, Kondamoori, Sunitha Guntipally, and Ramireddi are charged in connection with alleged efforts to conceal the defendants’ conduct.

Kondamoori submitted, “he and SemSolar were developing a product called “Eftia Master.Scribe” for which he required H-1B workers; that Softbank, Sprint’s parent company, was both an investor in SemSolar and a business partner of SISL Networks; and that Kondamoori was a general partner of Focus Ventures.” According to the indictment, all of those representations were false.

According to the indictment, on at least four occasions, Guntipally either provided H-1B foreign workers with false documents or advised the workers to mislead government agents.

Sunitha Guntipally and Ramireddi were also charged with witness tampering, and Kondamoori was charged with obstruction of justice.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin, and US State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Zebley.

Earlier last month, two Indian Americans Raju Kosuri, 44, and Smriti Jharia, 45, of Ashburn, Virginia, as well as four co-conspirators, were also indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on similar charges. According to the court documents, Kosuri, his wife Jharia, and their co-conspirators fraudulently applied for more than 800 illegal immigration benefits under the H-1B visa program.

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