USCIS Efforts Lead to Prison Sentence for Fremont Business Owner over Role in Visa Fraud Conspiracy and Other Crimes
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Venkat Guntipally was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit several crimes including visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents and mail fraud.
A federal grand jury indicted Venkat Guntipally, 49, his wife, Sunitha Guntipally, 44, of Fremont, and two other defendants, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev., and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016. The indictment contains charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.
“USCIS is committed to combating instances of fraud, abuse and other nefarious activities threatening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” stated USCIS San Francisco District Director John Kramer. “This sentencing sends a strong message to anyone thinking about circumventing or violating our rule of law.”
Venkat Guntipally pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017, at which time he admitted that he and his wife founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. In addition, Guntipally admitted that between approximately 2010 and 2014, he and his wife, together with others, submitted to the government more than one hundred fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies. The end-client companies listed in the fraudulent H-1B applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers. None of the listed companies ever intended to receive those H-1B workers. The scheme’s intended purpose was to create a pool of H-1B workers who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere. Through this scheme, Venkat Guntipally, along with his co-conspirators, gained an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms, and the Guntipally’s earned millions in ill-gotten gains. Venkat Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money.
Venkat Guntipally was charged with one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; ten counts of substantive visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a); seven counts of using false documents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(3); and four counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and the remaining charges were dismissed.
In addition to the prison term, the Judge ordered Venkat Guntipally to serve three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $500,000. Venkat Guntipally was ordered to self-surrender on or before June 14, 2019.
All three of Venkat Guntipally’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme. Last year, Sunitha Guntipally was sentenced to 52 months in prison, Ramireddi to 14 months’ imprisonment, and Kondamoori to 20 months’ imprisonment for their respective conduct.
The prosecution is a result of collaboration between USCIS’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonas Lerman with the assistance of Laurie Worthen.