On Friday, it was announced that an Indianapolis, Indiana immigration attorney had been sentenced to prison for defrauding the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and at least 250 clients by filing fraudulent visa applications. As a result, the lawyer obtained at least $750,000 in illegitimate fees. 45-year-old Joel Paul of Fishers, Indiana was sentenced to 75 months.
The defendant will also serve three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay up to $750,000 in restitution to his victims. In November of 2017, Paul pleaded guilty to a single count each of mail fraud, immigration document fraud, and aggravated identity theft in relation to a scheme to submit fraudulent U-visa applications.
As a part of the plea agreement, Paul admitted that from 2013 to 2017, he submitted more than 250 false Applications for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant for his clients without their knowledge. On the applications, Paul claimed that his clients had been the victims of a crime and provided substantial assistance to law enforcement in investigating the crime. With roughly 200 of the applications, the defendant submitted unauthorized copies of a certification he had acquired in 2013 from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.
The defendant used the certification without knowledge from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to falsely claim that his client had provided substantial assistance in a criminal prosecution. Paul charged his clients roughly $3,000 for each application. Again, 45-year-old Joel Paul has been sentenced to 75 months in prison. Additional details have been made available here.