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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Immigration Attorney Fraudulently Claimed Clients Were Crime Victims

An Indiana immigration attorney was sentenced to 75 months in prison for defrauding the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and more than 250 of his clients by filing fraudulent visa applications and reaping approximately $750,000 in illegitimate fees.

Joel Paul, 45, of Fishers, Ind., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana. In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Magnus-Stinson sentenced Paul to serve three years of supervised release, and ordered that he pay up to $750,000 in restitution to his victims. In November 2017, Paul pleaded guilty to one count each of mail fraud, immigration document fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to submit fraudulent U-visa applications.

“Immigration fraud undermines not only the public’s faith in our institutions and the legal profession, it also jeopardizes public safety and compromises national security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Attorneys who commit such egregious fraud on our legal system and their own clients will be held accountable.”

Paul admitted that from 2013 to 2017 he submitted more than 250 false Applications for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant on behalf of his clients and without their knowledge. Those applications falsely asserted that Paul’s clients had been victims of a crime and had provided substantial assistance to law enforcement in investigating the crime. With approximately 200 of the false applications, Paul submitted unauthorized copies of a certification he had obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of Indiana in 2013, using the certification without the USAO’s knowledge to falsely claim that the applicant had provided substantial assistance in a criminal prosecution. Paul charged his clients approximately $3,000 per application.

Read more at the Justice Department

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