- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

The group of District-area lawyers and their assistants accused of helping illegal aliens into the country used a scam that excluded U.S. citizens from getting the jobs, according to recently obtained federal court documents.

As part of the certification process, lawyers Irwin Jay Fredman and Sergei Danilov and legal assistants Elnor Veliev and Alp Canseven had to certify that they had satisfied state and federal requirements to ensure that a job offered through an employer was “clearly open to any qualified U.S. worker,” according to the documents.

However, Veliev, who pleaded guilty Sept. 27 to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, said that in some cases the group solicited aliens for jobs before placing an ad in a newspaper and falsely said it had placed a notice advertising an open position in the workplace, the documents show.

The lawyers and the assistants were indicted April 26 on charges of filing false labor-certification documents and green-card petitions with federal agencies on behalf of more than 140 aliens.

Veliev, an Azerbaijani national who is not a U.S. citizen, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 15. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and deportation.

Mr. Fredman and Mr. Danilov and their respective law firms — I. Jay Fredman PC and Sergei Danilov and Associates LLC, both in Northwest — have a trial date set for Jan. 17.

Mr. Danilov, a Russian national, faces deportation if convicted.

Officials said Mr. Canseven, a Turkish national, is a fugitive.

Michael Maggio, a District-based immigration lawyer with the firm Maggio Kattar PC, said the U.S. Labor Department has since changed recruiting requirements to improve the labor-certification process and protect against fraud.

“The new system requires far more recruitment,” he said. “The employers must have proof of all their recruitment, [such as] the resumes of applicants and detailed explanations of why [U.S. citizens] were turned down.”

Mr. Maggio also said employers are required to place job listings on the Internet and participate in job fairs.

Similar problems with federal Foreign Labor Certification programs have prompted concern in the Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

In the agency’s semiannual report to Congress, for Oct. 1, 2004, to March 31, officials stated that audits have identified “vulnerabilities” in the programs and that investigations “continue to identify fraud against these programs.”

The report cited a case in which seven persons were charged March 9 in Virginia with conspiracy, visa fraud and money laundering. One defendant, Alice Jia, pleaded guilty March 14 to creating fraudulent verifications of employment letters to show that the aliens had specific job experiences.

Officials said two of the defendants also reportedly filed more than 900 labor certifications on behalf of Chinese nationals seeking entry into the U.S.

The defendants charged the aliens as much as $90,000 an application.

Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the District-based American Immigration Lawyers Association, acknowledged that backlogs and delays in the labor-certification system make it vulnerable to exploitation by corrupt lawyers.

“It’s an incentive for [foreigners] to come illegally,” she said. “If the system is banking on the fact that [an application] is going to sit there for three or four years before anybody looks at it, then people perhaps are going to be more willing to take a risk and try to game it.”

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