Monday, May 21, 2012

Man Pleads Guilty to Visa Fraud

A Florida man pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 16, to conspiracy to commit visa fraud, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Mississippi Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General.

Michael Lombardi, 41, was the owner of U.S. Opportunities, a business that provides temporary foreign workers to U.S. companies. He admitted that, from January 2009 through April 2010, he fraudulently obtained temporary work visas under the H-2B visa program for foreign workers from the Philippines and placed them with U.S. companies not authorized to employ them. Some of those foreign workers were employed by companies in Mississippi. Lombardi was arrested Sept. 30 for conspiring to commit visa fraud, fraud in foreign labor contracting and false statements.

"Visa fraud takes jobs away from U.S. citizens and others who are legally allowed to work in this country. Through cases like this one, HSI is helping to protect our economy and preserve job opportunities from being lost due to fraud," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. Parmer oversees HSI activities in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Lombardi will be sentenced Aug. 6 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams.

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