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Home Columns San Diego Happenings VISA FRAUD SCHEME: Judge Metes Out Sentences to Two Immigration Lawyers
VISA FRAUD SCHEME: Judge Metes Out Sentences to Two Immigration Lawyers PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Tuesday, 11 March 2008 05:51
PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS
-  Exclusive
Volume 2, Issue No. 5 / News Without Fear or Favor /

Korenberg Gets Two Years in Federal Prison, Abramowitz Set for March 24


The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Tuesday, March 11, 2008 
 
By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

The author is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and National Press Club of the Philippines-USA.
A founding partner and a senior associate at one of West Coast's largest immigration law firms popular with Filipinos were meted sentences on Monday (March 10) by a federal judge in Los Angeles. Another name partner is scheduled for sentencing on March 24.
All the defendants had pleaded guilty to charges relating to the filing of false visa applications on behalf of foreign nationals, including some of the firm's own workers.  

 
SAN DIEGO - Two lawyers - one a name partner and the other a senior associate - at one of the West Coast's largest immigration law firms popular with Filipinos were sentenced on Monday (March 10) for filing false visa applications on behalf of foreign nationals, including more than a dozen of the firm's own workers, a Department of Justice spokesman announced in Los Angeles.
 
The justice department said Daniel E. Korenberg, 58, of Encino, a name partner and founder of the law firm previously known as Korenberg, Abramowitz & Feldun (KAF), was meted a 24-month sentence in federal prison after pleading guillty to two counts of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
 
Following that, Korenberg would be on "supervised release" for three years plus six months in home detention with electronic monitoring. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $750,000.
 
A senior associate at KAF, Steven James Rodriguez, 42, of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced to three years probation with the condition that he serve six months of home detention with electronic monitoring and perform 200 hours of community service, according to the justice department.
 
Rodriguez had pleaded guilty last year to one count of making false statements to the United States through the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
 
"These sentences successfully conclude the investigation and prosecution of two attorneys who filed false documentation for personal gain, facilitating the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the United States," said Gordon Heddell, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
 
The other name partner at KAF, Philip Abramowitz, 54, of Agoura Hills, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2008, the justice department said. He pleaded guilty to two counts of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit visa faud.
 
The State Bar of California has listed Abramowitz as "not eligible to practice law" as of July 25, 2007 as related to case number 06-C-15537; and again as of September 28, 2007 as related to case number 07-Q-13768.
 
State bar records indicate that Abramowitz tendered his resignation from the Bar "with charges" on Sept. 28, 2007.
 
Los Angeles-based United States District Judge Percy Anderson handed the sentences.
 
Korenberg and Rodriguez were charged in a 33-count indictment handed down in February 2007 following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, and the California Employment Development Department.  
 
The indictment said that beginning in 2000 and continuing through at least February 2003, the defendants filed fraudulent employment-based visa petitions on behalf of foreign nationals seeking temporary work authorization or permanent residency in the United States.
 
At least 19 of the aliens who benefitted from the visa fraud scheme were KAF employees. KAF, which is now known as ASK Law Group, is based in the San Fernando Valley community of Sherman Oaks, and the firm maintains offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas.
 
In San Diego, its downtown office is managed by Edwin Bael, a former consul general of the Philippines in Los Angeles. The law firm is quite popular with Filipinos. Previous attempts to get his comments had been largely ignored.
 
Court papers detailed how KAF hired foreign nationals without work authorization for a variety of support positions, including paralegal jobs. The defendants then allegedly applied for fraudulent work visas for those employees and paid them "off the books" in cash until the visas were approved.
 
To support the visa petitions, Korenberg and others created documents making false claims about the aliens' work experience and offers of employment, according to court filings.
 
Court papers said Korenberg and others made false statements to the U.S. government in connection with immigration and labor petitions filed on behalf of KAF employees.  Rodriguez and others made false statements to the U.S. government in connection with immigration petitions filed on behalf of KAF clients.

The probe also targeted two Los Angeles-area employment agencies, Job Seekers International and Employmasters International. 

The investigation revealed that the employment agencies identified employers, both real and fictitious, to attest that the aliens seeking the work visas were being recruited for highly skilled jobs that, in most instances, did not exist.

In 2005, the three owners of those employment agencies and one of their employees pleaded guilty to visa fraud and conspiracy charges. Those four defendants are awaiting sentencing.

The other defendants charged in the case are:

 1. Heidi Poepping, 45, of Moorpark, a paralegal at KAF, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21, 2008;

 2. Arturo Valencia, 56, of Walnut, the owner of Job Seekers International, pleaded guilty two years ago to one count of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 12, 2008;

 3. Maria Theresa Resurreccion, 40, of Anaheim, an employee of Job Seekers International, pleaded guilty to one count of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 5, 2008;

  4. Arnel Dizon, 36, of Corona, a co-owner of Employmasters International, pleaded guilty to one count of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 28, 2008; and

 5. Marlyn Rodriguez Dizon (Arnel's wife), 44, of Los Angeles, a co-owner of Employmasters International, pleaded guilty in May 2005 to one count of visa fraud and one count of conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2008. # # #

A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice; e-mail PhilVoiceNews@aol.com or at 619.265.0611 for the information and better understanding of the public.

(This Breaking News may be posted online, broadcast or reprinted, on condition that the author and the publication be properly credited. By Romeo P. Marquez, Editor, Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038. Volume 2, Issue no. 5, March 11, 2008).



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 08:49
 

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