Immigration Attorney Pleads Guilty to Bribing an Immigration Official
BALTIMORE – Attorney Kiran Dewan, age 59, of Woodbine, Md., pleaded guilty Dec. 13, 2013, to bribery, and one of his clients, Mohammad Khan, age 58, of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty to immigration fraud.
The pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and District Director Gregory Collett of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Baltimore District Office.
“Immigration attorneys hold positions of public trust and it is disturbing that anyone would defraud the very system in which they work for their own personal profit,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge in Baltimore William Winter. “Document and benefit fraud poses a significant vulnerability to our national security and exploits America's legal immigration system. Whether you are trying to illegally obtain an immigration benefit or facilitating the fraud, know this – you will be found, arrested and held accountable for your actions.”
Dewan operated the Law Offices of Dewan and Associates, P.C., located at 7100 Security Blvd. in Windsor Mill, Md. He held himself out as having experience handling immigration matters and as a certified public accountant.
According to his plea agreement, from March 2011 to May 2013, Dewan conspired with clients, including Khan, Narayan Thapa and Amjad Israr, to bribe an immigration official who was willing, in return for cash, to provide immigration documents and benefits which would permit the clients to legally live and work in the United States. Unbeknownst to Dewan and the clients, the immigration contact was actually an undercover agent posing as a public official. Dewan’s clients paid $170,000 in cash to Dewan to bribe the “public official,” of which Dewan kept $50,000. In return for the bribes, the purported public official provided green cards for the clients.
Additionally, in March 2011, Dewan offered to pay the purported public official $5,000 to have a foreign national removed from the U.S. Dewan was afraid that the foreign national was going to start his own accounting business and compete with Dewan. The purported public official pretended to issue the notice of removal, although in reality USCIS had already decided to issue this notice independently. Dewan paid the $5,000 bribe in May 2011.
In the fall of 2011, Dewan offered to pay the purported public official another $5,000 to remove and add documents to the foreign national’s USCIS files. Dewan explained that he had previously submitted false tax returns to USCIS in support of the foreign national’s employment visa application and wanted those false tax returns replaced with new tax returns. In November, the purported public official pretended to provide the requested tax returns and Dewan subsequently paid the $5,000 bribe.
In 2012, Dewan also spoke extensively about his knowledge of establishing an overseas Hawala to transfer the purported public official’s alleged bribery profits. A Hawala allows an individual to transfer money overseas using personal connections, without the money going through traditional government-monitored means like money transfer services or banks. Dewan stated that he had previously used this Hawala method for other clients, including a $400,000 transfer via a reverse Hawala method.
Dewan faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for bribery. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. scheduled Dewan’s sentencing for March 6, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
Khan, a citizen of Pakistan living in Baltimore, who operated Pizza City in Brooklyn Park, Md., faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for immigration fraud. Judge Quarles scheduled Khan’s sentencing for Feb. 25, 2014, at 1 p.m.
Amjad Israr, age 46, a Pakistani citizen living in Cheshire, Conn., who operated many convenience stores in Connecticut, pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe an immigration official in order to obtain lawful permanent residence (green card) and employment authorization documents. Judge Quarles sentenced Israr to 15 months in prison on Sept. 20, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore, the Baltimore County Police Department and USCIS Baltimore District Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Gruber and Gregory R. Bockin, who are prosecuting the case.