Saturday, March 13, 2010

Asylum Scam in Pennsylvania - Indictment

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
615 Chestnut Street
Suite 1250
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-4476
(215) 861-8200
For Immediate Release
July 29, 2008


Phony lawyer raked in $3 million in fees from fraudulent applicants

PHILADELPHIA - Acting United States Attorney Laurie Magid today announced the filing of an indictment charging David Lynn, Yevgeny Zemlyansky, Ilya Zherelyev, Anatoly Zagrinichny, Akbar Kadirov, and Nelly Katsman with operating a fraudulent business that filed at least 380 bogus asylum applications for clients between January 2003 and March 2007.

Joining Magid in today’s announcement were John Kelleghan, special agent-in-charge for the United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Labor Special Agent-in-Charge Bill Turpin, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk, and Cary Rubenstein, special agent-in-charge for the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development.

Federal immigration law permits individuals who have suffered persecution or will be persecuted upon return to their homeland because of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group to apply for asylum in the United States. According to the indictment, the defendants assisted clients in making false claims of persecution to immigration authorities in order to get asylum. Lynn’s business prepared and filed these fraudulent applications. He guaranteed his clients that he could lawfully obtain permanent residency status for them. For this service, Lynn charged a fee of up to $8,000 for an individual, and up to $12,000 for a family, receiving at least $3 million in proceeds from the fraudulent asylum business. Lynn disguised his phony asylum business, calling it a translation service and falsely claiming he was a lawyer.

The other defendants played various roles in Lynn’s business, completing bogus applications for asylum to submit to immigration authorities, driving clients to immigration interviews and proceedings, collecting and laundering the proceeds of the scheme, and coaching clients on how to falsely claim persecution. As the indictment alleges, the defendants simply made up claims of persecution for clients, falsely stating that clients had been persecuted for practicing the Baptist and Jehovah’s Witness religions, for being homosexual, and for being a Gypsy.
Because the business was so lucrative for the defendants, they went to great lengths to conceal the proceeds of the scheme, depositing the money in Lynn’s Swiss bank accounts, keeping it in safety deposit boxes, purchasing real estate, cashing checks at check cashing agencies, and insisting that clients pay the defendants in cash. Defendant Lynn even stored more than $500,000 in cash proceeds in a safe hidden under the floor in his basement, which federal agents recovered during the execution of a search warrant.
“The asylum system is designed to permit those subject to real persecution, violence, and oppression in their homeland an opportunity to reside peacefully in the United States. These defendants exploited the asylum system out of pure greed, amassing millions of dollars by clogging the system with fraudulent applications,” Magid said. “Such conduct undermines the system and hampers the timely consideration of legitimate applications.”
“Defrauding our country’s immigration system by filing bogus applications for benefits will not be tolerated,” said Kelleghan. “America opens it doors to those who have suffered persecution, and actions like these simply tie up the system for those truly in need. ICE will aggressively investigate anyone seeking to exploit and compromise the integrity of our nation’s immigration system for profit.”

David Lynn
Holland, PA
Yevgeny Zemlyansky
Feasterville, PA
Ilya Zherelyev
Philadelphia, PA
Anatoly Zagrinichny
Philadelphia, PA
Akbar Kadirov
Philadelphia, PA
Nelly Katsman
Holland, PA
Page 3
July 29, 2008
Page 3
David Lynn
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 1 count
Money Laundering - 1 count
Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 1 count
Yevgeny Zemlyansky
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 3 counts
Money Laundering - 2 counts
Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 1 count
False statement to a government agency - 3 counts
Ilya Zherelyev
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 1 count
Money Laundering - 1 count
Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 1 count
Failure to appear for a court hearing - 1 count
Anatoly Zagrinichny
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 1 count
False statement to a government agency - 1 count
Akbar Kadirov
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 1 count
Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 1 count
Nelly Katsman
Conspiracy - 1 count
Visa/Asylum fraud - 1 count
If convicted of all charges, the individual defendants face maximum possible sentences as
David Lynn – 65 years imprisonment; $1.5 million fine;
Yevgeny Zemlyansky – 100 years imprisonment; $2.75 million fine;
Ilya Zherelyev – 75 years imprisonment; $1.75 million fine;
Anatoly Zagrinichny – 30 years imprisonment; $750,000 fine;
Akbar Kadirov – 45 years imprisonment; $1 million fine; and
Nelly Katsman – 25 years imprisonment; $500,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development; with support from the Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, Department of State Diplomatic Security Services, the Northampton Township Police Department, and the Upper Southampton Township police.
It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Terri A. Marinari.
Media Contact
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Immigration Attorney Fraudulent Asylum Scheme Conviction

February 11, 2009

Immigration attorney convicted in fraudulent asylum scheme
Coached aliens to tell false stories of fear of persecution

GREENBELT, MD - A jury convicted Patrick G. Tzeuton, 42, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today for conspiracy to prepare false asylum applications, immigration fraud and obstruction of official immigration proceedings in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents led this investigation with assistance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.
"Any attempt to obtain an immigration benefit by deception and fraud is a serious matter and it is particularly disturbing when it is committed by an immigration attorney," said Scot R. Rittenberg, acting special agent in charge for ICE in Baltimore. "With our partners in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Attorney's Office, ICE will continue to identify, arrest, and bring to justice those involved in these illegal schemes."
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said, "Patrick Tzeuton fabricated asylum applications and advised aliens to tell false stories to immigration officials. The immigration process is not supposed to be a game in which people gain U.S. citizenship by making up the most compelling story."
Tzeuton operated a law firm known as the Law Offices of Patrick Tzeuton & Associates located at 8121 Georgia Avenue, Suite 102 and 8401 Colesville Road both offices in Silver Spring. Tzeuton employed Henri Nzone as his office manager. Tzeuton represented hundreds of clients as an attorney in immigration matters before U.S. immigration officials.
According to testimony at the four week trial, from May 2002 to at least October 2005, Tzeuton and Nzone prepared false asylum applications, together with false and fraudulent supporting affidavits and documents, and presented them U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Witnesses at trial testified that the asylum applications contained false statements regarding (1) the alleged basis for the alien's fear of future persecution in the alien's home country; (2) the date and circumstances of the alien's entries into the United States; and (3) the alien's marital status, spouse, and children.
Testimony showed that Tzeuton submitted multiple asylum applications to immigration officials containing similar and, in some instances nearly identical, fraudulent affidavits and other supporting documents and coached the aliens as to the false statements in their applications to prepare them for meetings with immigration officials and appearances in immigration court.
According to trial testimony, Tzeuton demanded and collected payments from aliens to prepare and to present the fraudulent asylum applications, to prepare documents submitted in support of the false applications, to prepare the aliens for asylum interviews and court appearances, to prepare and file appeals, and for other services relating to the false and fraudulent asylum applications.
Tzeuton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy; ten years in prison for immigration fraud; and 20 years in prison for obstruction of official proceedings. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for April 29, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. Tzeuton is detained until his sentencing.
Co-defendant Henri Marcel Nzone, a/k/a Henri Marcel Nzone Nguessa, 44 of Spencerville, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and obstruction of official immigration proceedings.

Immigration Lawyer Guilty of Fraud in New Jersey

April 8, 2009 

Immigration lawyer, wife found guilty of asylum fraud

Couple face up to 5 years in federal prison

NEW YORK - A Jersey City, N.J., couple were both found guilty on Friday of one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. A week-long jury trial, which ended April 3, resulted from a joint investigation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI. James Christo, 44, and Remila Christo, 35, each face a maximum of five years in federal prison.
According to court documents, James Christo, assisted by his wife, operated a law firm in Manhattan that, among other things, helped aliens from Albania with political asylum applications.
In April and May 2004, the Christos worked together to help a client create and document a fake story of persecution in support of an asylum application. In fact, the client was an undercover FBI agent posing as an Albanian immigrant.
ICE targets criminals engaged in immigration fraud because it poses a severe threat to national security and public safety by creating vulnerabilities that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States.
U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin, Southern District of New York, praised ICE and the FBI for their investigative work in this case.
James Christo was found not guilty on a second count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
Sentencing for the Christos is scheduled for July 17.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Expeditious Naturalization Guidelines

Guidelines for Expeditious Naturalization

Guidelines for Expeditious Naturalization
This material is for Eligible Family Members of Department of State direct-hire personnel only. Other Agency spouses should contact their Human Resource departments for possible assistance with 319(b) naturalization.

Who Qualifies for Naturalization Assistance from the Family Liaison Office? The following requirements must be fulfilled:

A foreign-born spouse must have entered the U.S. legally and have Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the U.S. (The LPR status may be conditional and if a "green card" has not been issued yet, an "A" number in the passport with the annotation "processed for I-551" is sufficient.) Additionally, one of the following very important requirements must be true:
  1. The spouse must be going with the employee on an overseas assignment. In this situation naturalization cannot take place more than 45 days prior to departure from the U.S. You may, however, apply and start the process if you have received your post assignment notification. Please note: USCIS will not waive this 45 day requirement.

  2. The spouse must currently be at an overseas post with the employee and must have at least one year left at post at the time the naturalization process will be completed (generally five to seven months after the N400 application is submitted to USCIS). Please note: USCIS will not waive this requirement. For practical purposes this means you need 18 months or more remaining on your overseas tour to start the naturalization process.
Please be aware that only USCIS can adjudicate naturalization applications. FLO's role is to guide and advise DOS Foreign Service personnel and their spouses on the expeditious naturalization process, verify eligibility, and facilitate 319(b) naturalization. To receive further information please call FLO's Reception Desk at (202) 647-1076 or write to our naturalization specialist at

The Process
Please see this Expeditious Naturalization Flow Chart for an overview of the process. To begin, applicants must complete the Cover Letter Information Form. Fill out the form, save it to your computer, and return it to FLO with a copy of the post assignment notification (TM One). Based on the information you provide, FLO will generate a cover letter on DOS letterhead and send it back to the applicant together with the USCIS mailing address and instructions for submitting the N400 application.

The applicant should visit the FLO Expeditious Naturalization Application Materials and Information webpage for application forms, information, and instructions on preparing your application for submission to USCIS.
The current fee for processing an N400 application is $675 if you apply from the U.S. or $595 if you apply from abroad with fingerprint cards. If you are applying from the U.S. you will receive a notice from USCIS directing you to a local Applicant Support Center (ASC) for a fingerprint appointment a few weeks after you submit the N400 application form.

You may choose to complete the interview at any USCIS district office in the US; however, FLO's experience is that requesting a district office where they rarely, or maybe never, process a 319(b) case may cause delays. FLO recommends that naturalization interviews be completed at the Washington District Office in Fairfax, VA. FLO has strong contacts with this office and it is conveniently located so the new US citizen can quickly apply for a diplomatic passport at the Special Issuance Passport Agency in Washington, D.C.

When the background investigation is complete and the case is ready for adjudication, the USCIS will send the naturalization interview appointment notice to the applicant. The interview notice should be sent to the Naturalization Specialist, who will contact the applicant and (1) confirm that the applicant will be present for the interview granted; or (2) work with the applicant and the USCIS to schedule the interview and oath on a date that best fits the applicant's travel and work plans. In Fairfax, if the applicant is successful in the interview and exam, the oath ceremony usually takes place the same day. After taking the oath, the applicant receives a Certificate of Citizenship to prove that he or she is now a U.S. citizen. Cameras are allowed and guests are encouraged to attend the oath ceremony.

The average processing time is currently around three to seven months but it may take longer. Neither USCIS nor FLO has control over how long the background investigation portion of the naturalization processing may take. Although you may have requested a certain month or date for the interview, if the case is not ready for adjudication you will have to wait. If you are overseas, please do not make travel arrangements until you have been informed that your case is ready for adjudication!

Many applicants who are already serving overseas request an interview date during a time they may be able to take advantage of R&R travel. There is no financial assistance from the U. S. Government or the Department of State for this process. Applying to become a U.S. citizen is considered a private matter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Application for Green Card Updates

Revised Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Revised Filing Locations

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it has posted a revised Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485.  In addition to a revised form, there are new filing locations.  The changes are part of an overall effort to transition the intake of USCIS benefit forms from Service Centers to Lockbox facilities.  Centralizing form and fee intake allows USCIS to provide the public more efficient and effective initial processing of applications and fees.
Beginning February 25, 2010, most applicants must submit Form I-485 to a USCIS Lockbox facility, depending  on the eligibility category under which they are filing, as provided in the form instructions.  USCIS Service Centers will forward all Form I-485 applications to the appropriate Lockbox facility until March 29, 2010.  USCIS will accept previous versions of Form I-485 until March 29, 2010.  After March 29, 2010, USCIS will only accept the Form I-485 dated “12/03/09.”Any previous versions of the the form that are submitted will be rejected. After the transitional period, the Service Centers will return any incorrectly filed Form I-485 with instructions to send the application to the correct location.
At this time, applicants should not concurrently file Form I-485 with an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) at a USCIS Lockbox facility.  Refer to the Form I-140 filing Instructions for information on how to file forms concurrently.
When filing Form I-485 at a Lockbox facility, you may elect to receive an email and/or text message notifying you that USCIS has accepted your application.  To receive notification, you must complete an E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (Form G-1145), and attach it to the first page of your application.
For more information on USCIS programs, visit or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.