US: Indian guru found guilty of immigration fraud

Last Updated: Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 10:40

New York: An Indian spiritual guru has been
found guilty by a federal jury of selling religious worker
visas to Indians for over USD 30,000 each to enable them to
enter the US fraudulently.

Sagarsen Haldar (31) also known as Gopal Hari Das,
identified himself as the president of a Hindu temple Gaudiya
Vaisnava Society (GVS) in Milwaukee.

A federal jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin found
Haldar guilty of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, under
which he fraudulently obtained and sold religious worker visas
to Indian nationals. He will be sentenced on February 24.

According to evidence at the trial, Haldar conspired to
sponsor more than two dozen Indian nationals to enter the US
under the R-1 visas.

The R-1 applications falsely stated that the individuals
were religious workers who planned to be priests and perform
religious work at the GVS temple.

However, the Indian nationals had no religious training or
experience and had no intention of working as priests once
they arrived in the US.

Haldar charged the Indian nationals as much as USD 30,000
each for giving them the visas. They made substantial cash
payments to Haldar and his associates in India and paid the
balance to Haldar once they arrived in the United States by
working at convenience stores and other Milwaukee-area

"We are extremely gratified with the jury`s guilty verdict
in this case," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement`s (ICE) Homeland
Security Investigations.

"Visa fraud represents a vulnerability that could be
exploited by criminals or others who wish to do us harm,"
Hartwig said.

The investigation into the matter began in June 2008 after
ICE received information from US Citizenship and Immigration
Services` Benefit Fraud Unit that the temple had filed
numerous petitions for R-1 religious workers from India.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Haldar used the
GVS temple as a front for an elaborate religious visa fraud

Haldar was charged in June 2010 after Homeland Security
Investigations agents arrested him at Chicago`s O`Hare
International Airport as he arrived in the US from India.

In his luggage, Haldar had identification documents -
including passports and other Indian identification papers -
bearing the names and photographs of other Indian nationals.


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First Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 10:40

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