- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Three Virginia men are scheduled to appear in federal court today to answer charges they sold more than 150 fraudulent labor certificates to Korean immigrants, who used the bogus documents to obtain green cards to remain illegally in the United States.

Fairfax attorneys Steven Y. Lee, 48, and Jordan N. Baker, 36, as well as Byung Chul Kim, 34, an Annandale restaurant owner, were arrested Thursday after being named in criminal complaints.

The trio will appear today before Magistrate Judge Barry R. Poretz in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. If convicted, the men face prison terms of 10 years and fines of $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said the men were taken into custody after a two-year undercover investigation by federal and local authorities; each was accused of repeatedly filing fraudulent applications for alien employment certification with Labor Department offices in Virginia and Maryland at fees ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 each.

“Document fraud is a major problem in Virginia,” Mr. McNulty said. “Federal law enforcement vigorously attacks this type of crime particularly because our national security depends on effective immigration laws.”

Mr. Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Mr. Baker, born in the United States, are senior partners at the Fairfax law firm Lee & Baker, which specializes in immigration law. Mr. Kim, a Korean national who lives in Vienna, Va., is owner of the Todam Koll restaurant.

According to Mr. McNulty, the labor applications — when properly filed and approved — allow immigrants to come to the United States to work for employers unable to find willing and able workers to fill job openings.

Mr. McNulty said Mr. Lee and Mr. Baker are accused of preparing and submitting applications they knew contained false information and forgeries on behalf of several employers and immigrants.

He said investigators believe the two attorneys colluded with local employers — including Mr. Kim — to file applications seeking immigrant workers for jobs the employers did not have and did not intend to fill.

According to an FBI affidavit, the investigation targeted 150 labor applications prepared and submitted by Mr. Lee and Mr. Baker since 1999, but also focused on similar applications they had filed in other states that are believed to have been fraudulent.

“Lee and Baker were deeply involved in labor certification fraud and related crimes from at least June 1999 to February 2003,” the affidavit said, noting that nearly every application contained a forgery, false address, fictitious alien name, false alien work history or false employment offer.

The document also says Mr. Kim used a fake Social Security account number to obtain credit cards, bank accounts and a driver’s license.

FBI agents monitored and taped telephone calls involving Mr. Lee that have the lawyer openly discuss the illegality of his labor-certification work, and warn others to take precautions to avoid detection by law enforcement agents.

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