An Indianapolis-area immigration attorney was sentenced to 75 months in prison for submitting more than 250 fraudulent visa applications, the Justice Department said.
Joel Paul, 45, of Fishers, Indiana, pleaded guilty in November to one count each of mail fraud, immigration document fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to submit fraudulent U-visa applications.
In addition to the prison sentence, Paul received three years of supervised release and ordered to pay up to $750,000 in restitution to his victims.
Paul admitted that he submitted more than 250 false Applications for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant on behalf of his clients from 2013 to 2017. Those applications falsely claimed Paul’s clients had been crime victims and had provided substantial assistance to law enforcement in investigation the crime.
Roughly 200 of the false applications included copies of a certification he obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana in 2013 without the USAO’s knowledge.
The Justice Department said Paul’s victims, who paid about $3,000 per application, were not aware of the fraud.
“Immigration fraud undermines not only the public’s faith in our institutions and the legal profession, it also jeopardizes public safety and compromises national security,” said John P. Cronan, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Attorneys who commit such egregious fraud on our legal system and their own clients will be held accountable.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case with the assistance of USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.