PHILADELPHIA >> A Spring City-area business owner potentially faces time in a federal prison after he admitted to a scheme to illegally bring more than 50 workers to the United States on work visas as IT consultants for his company.

Sudhakar Majety, 46, the owner of Upani Consultants, which purportedly performed IT consulting services, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Monday to four counts of visa fraud in connection with the scheme. Majety, who faces a possible maximum sentence of 40 years in a federal prison and a $1 million fine when he’s sentenced in February by U.S. District Court Judge John R. Padova, remains free on bail while awaiting sentencing.

With the charges, federal prosecutors alleged Majety, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, created a series of shell corporations and sham contracts to pretend that Upani Consultants needed the additional workers. Federal authorities said Majety’s business was located in the 2100 block of Kimberton Road.

“Majety solicited Indian nationals who did not have the appropriate work visas to work for Upani,” U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Livermore alleged in court papers, adding Majety applied for visas for the workers and submitted false information on the applications to obtain those visas. “This false information included the fact that Upani had jobs for these workers in the United States.”

Had U.S. Immigration authorities known that Majety and Upani actually did not have work for the applicants, U.S. Immigration officials would not have granted the visas, authorities alleged.

When the workers arrived in the U.S., they learned that there were no jobs for them at Upani and they were forced to search for jobs elsewhere, federal authorities alleged.

Some workers who could not find employment had to pay Majety additional money to keep their visas active, according to authorities. Majety typically charged each worker $4,000 for the visa and kept 20% of any of their earnings in the U.S.

Authorities wrote in court papers that while Majety’s profits “are difficult to calculate, his motive to commit this crime was undoubtedly pecuniary.”

“In reality, Upani did very little actual consulting work and functioned more like a temporary worker company searching for jobs for their workers on the Internet,” Memeger and Livermore alleged in court papers.

Majety, authorities alleged, hired a few young acquaintances he had met in his community to work in the office at Upani and most of the workers had no experience working in an office setting and no experience with work visas. In order to obtain dozens of fraudulent visas, Majety created a series of shell corporations and on paper the shell corporations were controlled by Majety’s friends and employees, authorities alleged.

“Majety also created false contracts for IT consulting services with some of the businesses in his neighborhood, including his children’s daycare center and a local grocery store. None of these businesses needed or used the extensive IT consulting services provided in the contracts,” Memeger and Livermore alleged in court documents.

The purpose of the shell corporations and sham contracts was to fabricate the documentation needed to obtain the work visas, prosecutors alleged.

“After the visas were obtained, most of the workers discovered that there was no work for them at Upani. Many of them were forced to look for work on their own, sometimes with the assistance of Upani staff members. However, many of the workers struggled to find employment,” prosecutors alleged. “Majety instructed his staff members to ‘doctor up’ the resumes of the workers to make them more attractive to companies. Thus, only some of the workers for whom Majety secured visas found employment.”

Most of the workers sat on “the bench” as Majety called it, according to court papers. One worker had to pay Upani her own salary, of which Majety allegedly kept 20 percent, for a few months in order to generate the appropriate paperwork to renew her visa, prosecutors alleged.

One alleged shell corporation, Farmulations, was set up purportedly to provide computer consulting services to farmers, and Majety fraudulently reported to the government that Upani had a contract with Farmulations to perform consulting services, according to court documents. Majety allegedly then obtained a number of visas for workers to perform services on the Farmulations contracts.

“In reality, none of the workers performed any services on the Farmulations contract because the company and the contracts were a sham. The workers on the Farmulations contract were forced to find work elsewhere on the open market. If they did, Majety kept 20 percent of their earnings. Otherwise they sat on the ‘bench,’” Memeger and Livermore alleged in court documents.

As part of the plea agreement, Majety, who is represented by defense lawyer Gavin Lentz, admitted that he procured between 25 and 99 false work visas, according to court documents.

Under the guilty plea agreement submitted to the court, authorities said forfeiture of any property that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offenses also could be ordered at sentencing time.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Livermore is handling the prosecution.

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