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Indian American pleads guilty to passport fraud, making false statements

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Shivam Patel of Williamsburg, VA, did not disclose his foreign trips when he applied to join the army.

An Indian American man, who was arrested last year for making false statements in his application to join the US Army and Air Force, has pleaded guilty to passport fraud and to making false statements.

According to a press release issued by the US Justice Department, Shivam Patel from Williamsburg, Virginia, did not disclose his foreign trips when he applied to join the army and fraudulently applied for a new passport for concealing such foreign trips.

According to court documents, Shivam Patel, 28, was working in China in the summer of 2016, when he flew to the Kingdom of Jordan, from where he was arrested, detained, and then returned to the United States. Patel is alleged to have told an undercover agent and a confidential source that he wanted to join a “Muslim army” and commit jihad.

After returning to the United States, he applied to join the US Army and Air Force. When asked about his prior foreign travel as part of his applications, Patel did not disclose his trips to China or Jordan.

After he was asked to show an Army recruiter his passport, which would have revealed his prior travel, he applied for a new passport, falsely claiming that he had accidentally thrown his old passport away. Special agents from the FBI recovered that passport, which documented his undisclosed travel, when they arrested him in July 2017.

“Patel pleaded guilty to false statements and passport application fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. He will be sentenced on June 4. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” said the Justice Department.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Edward C. O’Callaghan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after US Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. Bosse and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.