A staffing firm executive has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents and mail fraud, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week. He also must forfeit $500,000.
A federal grand jury filed a 33-count indictment in May 2016 against Guntipally and his wife, Sunitha Guntipally, both of Fremont, Calif., founders and owners of DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. Also included in the indictment were Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori of Incline Village, Nev.; and Sandhya Ramireddi, of Pleasanton, Calif.
Venkat Guntipally pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017, admitting that between approximately 2010 and 2014, he and his co-defendants submitted more than 100 fraudulent H-1B visa petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies. The companies listed as end-clients in the fraudulent applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers — and none ever intended to receive those H-1B workers. The scheme’s intended purpose was to create a pool of H-1B workers who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere, Guntipally admitted. Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money.
Guntipally was charged with one count of conspiracy; 10 counts of substantive visa fraud; seven counts of using false documents; and four counts of mail fraud. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and the remaining charges were dismissed.
In February 2018, USCIS announced it would be scrutinizing applications for H-1B visas for individuals placed at third-party worksites. In light of the President Trump’s Buy American Hire American Executive Order, USCIS is requesting detailed documentation to ensure that petitioners can demonstrate they have specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for that beneficiary for the entire time requested on the petition.
In addition to the prison term, Guntipally was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and forfeit $500,000. He is to self-surrender on or before June 14, 2019.
All three of Venkat Guntipally’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their respective roles in the scheme. Last year, Sunitha Guntipally was sentenced to 52 months in prison, Ramireddi to 14 months’ imprisonment, and Kondamoori to 20 months’ imprisonment.