Virginia Immigration Attorney Charged In Major Visa Scam
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Samuel G. Kooritzky, a 63-year-old immigration lawyer who owns and operates Capital Law Centers, along with Ronald W. Bogardus have been charged with the submission of nearly 2,700 phony labor certifications. According to a 60-page affidavit filed in Federal Court in Alexandria yesterday, Messrs. Kooritzky and Bogardus charged immigrants a minimum of $8,000, raking in a minimum of $11 million and as much as $21 million over the past 18 months, according to INS agency estimates.
I got the "heads up" from an e-mail from Maddy which soon triggered an uproar in e-mail correspondence and provided most of the banter in our various offices on Thursday morning. Here's how the scheme allegedly worked: Bogardus obtained the names of local businesses, allegedly to serve as sponsors for would-be alien beneficiaries, notwithstanding the fact that these businesses and their managers were unaware of said sponsorship. In one example, Kooritzky allegedly filed 184 requests for short-order cooks for the Silver Diner in Arlington, Virginia. Well, needless to say, they're not flipping that many pancakes at the Silver Diner.
To his credit, Mr. Kooritzky, who resides in Vienna, Virginia, did not have a comment after being released by the U.S. Magistrate. Bogardus, on the other hand, proclaimed:
"I'm an honest, law-abiding citizen."
Meanwhile, the INS investigators are rather flabbergasted with the Virginia Employment Commission's as well as the U.S. Labor Department Regional Office's failure to notice the applications these gentlemen were submitting on behalf of individual restaurants. Consider these examples:
While these bozos (no disrespect to the orange-haired clown intended) are getting 230 foreign cooks shuffled through for one restaurant, it is a little disheartening to see the kind of hassle we can occasionally get for a legitimate skilled worker position (albeit seldom by the Floyd Goodman's saintly troops in Atlanta...)
According to the Post article, Labor Department's Special Agent Andrew Shea visited each of these restaurants where managers repeated the same story: they never heard of these beneficiaries and didn't pay starting cooks the $12.05 the ETA-750As indicated. Of the nearly 2,700 applications filed by Kooritzky since January 2001, Agent Shea indicated that he had investigated 1,436 and, "did not find one single legitimate application."
This brings me to a really sad point: if all this proves to be true, and in this editorial column, I have the right to tell you that I suspect it is, there are 2,700 people out there who knowingly paid $8,000 to someone who promised they are getting them a job offer (legitimate or otherwise), and there are now 2,700 victimized families, all in the hands of one immigration attorney and his accomplices. Once again, the reputation of our profession is tarnished in the hands of one scumbag. At the same time, I can guarantee you that all 2,700 of these folks will swear UP AND DOWN that they absolutely, positively believe that this was a legitimate deal, a legitimate job offer, yadda yadda YADDA. Never mind the fact that maybe 2% of them will prove to have any experience in the jobs offered, that many will be professionals, that many were aware that what they were paying for was something "more" than legitimate legal representation. I've seen this a million times in Miami, and I can tell you this much: there are only a few exceptions - the very, very vulnerable and tragically illiterate and misinformed.
It takes two to tango.
Once again, I remind you: be careful out there, this isn't Moscow, this isn't Caracas, and the vast majority of our government officials and private attorneys are not corrupt. Your "shortcut" might just turn out to be a permanent bar to U.S. permanent residency for you AND your family, as it just did for 2,700 folks and theirs.
You're in America now. Choose wisely.
About The Author
Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice working primarily with the IT industry and foreign investors. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. JELPA is an A/V rated firm whose web site, www.usvisanews.com, is one of the Internet’s most visited immigration sites. The firm was named “ONE OF AMERICA’S TOP TEN INTERNET/VIRTUAL COMPANIES” in the 1999 Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems “Growing with Technology Awards.” Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.