Monday, 15 April 2013

New York attorney pleads guilty in massive immigration scam

New York attorney pleads guilty in massive immigration scam, A New York City attorney specializing in immigration law entered a guilty plea on Friday in a federal case involving an enormous and complex immigration scam involving phony claims of persecution in China, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Attorney John Lin pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to one count of conspiring to commit immigration fraud, as part of an immigration fraud scheme involving thousands of fraudulent asylum applications.

The 53-year-old Lin is the eighth lawyer charged for his participation in the fraud scheme involving at least 10 law firms in the New York City metropolitan area, according to the Justice Department.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, “For those seeking asylum from persecution in their native countries, United States immigration laws provide a vital escape hatch. Not only did John Lin abuse those laws and violate his duties as an officer of the court, but he also made it harder for legitimate asylum-seekers. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who violate this country’s immigration laws.”

“Lin, a lawyer and officer of the court, violated the ethical obligations of his profession while breaking the law. Assisting others with their fraudulent asylum claims enabled them to enter the country under false pretenses. The scheme exploited a program designed to provide safe haven for real victims of persecution,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said.

And New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added, “It’s bad enough when new arrivals to this country are victimized by common criminals, but despicable when a member of the bar dishonors his sworn duties to exploit a system designed to protect some of the most vulnerable among us.”

According to the Information and other documents filed in this case: Lin was an attorney at a law office located in New York City (the “Law Firm”). As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirators profited by creating and submitting asylum applications containing false stories of persecution, purportedly suffered by Chinese alien applicants.

According to documents in the case, Lin's firm made up stories of persecution that often followed one of three fact patterns: (a) forced abortions performed pursuant to China’s family planning policy; (b) persecution based on the client’s belief in Christianity; or (c) political or ideological persecution, typically for membership in China’s Democratic Party or followers of Falun Gong.

Since 2006, the Lin's firm has submitted more than 500 asylum applications.

Lin, who is a resident of Staten Island (Richmond County), New York, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein, on Aug. 12, 2013.

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