Somalingam may get 10 years in jail, stiff fine.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: New Jersey resident Manamadurai Somalingam has admitted to his role in a scam involving fraudulent student visas given out to immigrants coming to the US for higher studies.
Somalingam, a 64 year-old resident of Iselin, NJ, was the owner of a school called PC Tech Learning, with campuses in his hometown and Jersey City. As the head of the school, Somalingam was required to keep strict tabs on the visas of all foreign students attending class there. Instead, Somalingam admitted to fudging records for several people, including a woman he hired to work for him full-time despite her student visa prohibiting this.
He also allowed several foreign students to remain in the US as students of his school so long as they paid tuition, a clear violation of student visa laws that clearly state a student must maintain certain grades and continue to make academic progress in order to retain their visa. The implication is that Somalingam was allowing foreigners to stay in the country regardless of if they really actively participated in their studies, so long as he received his due payment.
The fraudulent activities allegedly occurred between March of 2011 and May of the following year. An investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency exposed Somalingam’s fraud. He was arrested and charged with one count of “conspiring to commit visa fraud” and one count of “conspiring to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for private financial gains.”
Because Somalingam has confessed to the crimes, all that remains is the sentencing, which is to be carried out on December 5th. The counts he has been charged with, which were read out to him by US District Court judge Freda Wolfson in New Jersey’s Trenton Federal Court, carry with them the possibility of 10 to 15 years in jail, with a stiff fine of a quarter million dollars.
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