H-1B Visa fraud: Indian American Sunitha Guntipally gets four years

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Sunitha Guntipally, along with her husband Venkat Guntipally, founded DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms.

Indian American Sunitha Guntipally of Fremont has been sentenced to over four years in prison for role in H-1B visa fraud conspiracy, mail fraud, witness tampering, and related crimes.

According to the Department of Justice, a federal grand jury indicted Sunitha Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, and three co-defendants, Venkat Guntipally, 49, of Fremont; Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev.; and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in 33-counts on May 5, 2016. 

Sunitha Guntipally along with her husband Venkat Guntipally founded DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms.

Sunitha Guntipally admitted that between 2010 and 2014, they falsely submitted more than one hundred fraudulent H-1B petitions in the name of several companies, which either did not exist or never had requirement for H-1B workers, thus creating a pool of H-1B beneficiaries who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere.

“Through this scheme, Sunitha Guntipally, along with her co-conspirators, gained an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms and, as a result, she and her husband, Venkat Guntipally, earned money from these downstream companies for themselves and their companies.  In addition, Sunitha Guntipally admitted that she obstructed justice, and directed her co-defendant to do the same, in an effort to mislead the agents, and conceal the conspiracy,” said the Department of Justice.

Sentencing Sunitha Guntipally, Judge Koh stated that the defendant’s crime does “damage to the rule of law.”  Judge Koh said the defendant’s conduct “undermines respect for our legal immigration system” and does “tremendous damage to our institutions and affects the rights of others to immigrate to the United States.”   

According to the indictment, Kondamoori responded to federal law enforcement officers investigating the visa fraud conspiracy with various false representations.  Kondamoori allegedly represented that, among other things, 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.  Kondamoori is charged with one count of obstruction of justice.

Ramireddi also is alleged to have advised an H-1B worker to mislead a government agent for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or preventing the government investigation. 

The judge had sentenced Ramireddi to 14 months’ imprisonment and Kondamoori to 20 months’ imprisonment for their respective roles earlier this year.  Venkat Guntipally, Sunitha Guntipally’s husband, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2018.