For Immediate Release
September 10, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia
Contact: (757) 441-6331
Second Major Boss in Visa Fraud Conspiracy Sentenced to 78 Months
NORFOLK, VA—Federal and local authorities announced today that Vahe Harutyunyan, age 35, of Armenia, was sentenced in Norfolk federal court to 78 months in prison for his role in a wide-spread visa fraud conspiracy in Hampton Roads. Harutyunyan is the second major boss sentenced for his role in this conspiracy, Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced after Harutyunyan was sentenced by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis. Viktor Krus was previously sentenced to 87 months in prison on July 17, 2009. Since 2001, Harutyunyan fraudulently obtained foreign labor visas and defrauded the government of $6.8 million in payroll taxes. He previously pled guilty to committing visa fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering on March 31, 2009.
Additional law enforcement authorities making the announcement today include James Dinkins, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C.; C. Andre Martin, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Washington, D.C., Field Office; John W. Schilling, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Robert L. Panella, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor; James H. Freis, Jr., Director, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Samuel G. Worth, Special Agent in Charge, Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Norfolk Field Office; and A.M. Jacocks, Chief of Police, Virginia Beach Police Department.
According to court documents, since March 2001, Harutyunyan and his co-conspirators carried out a conspiracy involving visa and asylum fraud, marriage fraud, making fraudulent statements under oath, and filing fraudulent documents to obtain foreign labor visas for hundreds of alien employees. Some visa petitions were submitted seeking to bring in substantially more alien workers than what client hotels or businesses had contracted for or needed, and that most of the alien workers brought in through the fraudulent scheme were contracted out to hotels or businesses other than those listed on their visa and were working in states other than Virginia. As cited in the indictment, the aliens were encouraged or induced to enter or reside in the United States and transported and shielded from detection for commercial advantage and private financial gain.
After years of investigation, the U.S. Attorney approved a dedicated task force in August 2007 with the mission of dismantling this criminal organization. The task force investigating this case included ICE; the Internal Revenue Service; the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security; the U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; and the Virginia Beach Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph DePadilla and Stephen Haynie prosecuted the case for the United States.