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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Two ComData Consulting, Inc. Employees Are Charged With Violations of the H1-B Visa Program

Teachers with H1-B visas should be careful.

Feds Struggle with H-1B Case

A court finds federal investigators acted recklessly in the aftermath of last year's bust of an alleged nationwide H-1B scam ring, arresting 11 people in seven states and bringing a 10-count indictment against a New Jersey IT services firm, Vision Systems Group.....

Two Employees Arrested For Extortion And Attempting To Intimidate A Whistleblower
by BCheung on April 6, 2010

Sateesh Yalamanchili and Trinath Chigurupati, two employees from ComData Consulting Inc. were arrested and charged with extortion and scheming to obstruct federal investigation within the New York area.

ComData Consulting Inc. typically hires and sponsors foreign workers through their H1-B Visa Program, to work within their IT field. Under the H1-B Visa Program, the employer is required to pay certain wages and other benefits to their foreign workers by United States Department of Labor.

On January 15, 2010, the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL-WHD) commenced an investigation on ComData‘s alleged violation of failure to pay required wages to its foreign workers, which both defendants were responsible for. ComData allegedly owe approximately $142,000 in back wages to 4 of its foreign employees.

Between January and February 2010, Yalamanchili and Chigurupati, purportedly exerted threats and $5,000 of bribery to one of the employees ComData owes wages to, to recant statements made to DOL-WHD.

A consensually recorded video by this employee, during one of the meetings with Yalamanchili and Chigurupati, indicated acts of extortion. Chigurupati reached an agreement with the employee that if the employee lied to DOL-WHD stating that he has no issues with his wages with ComData, he will receive $5,000 in exchange, and that his H-1B Visa would not be revoked.

If convicted, Chigurupati and Yalamanchili each face a maximum penalty of 25 years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for one count of extortion and one count of attempting to obstruct federal investigation.Two N.J. men charged with extortion, obstruction in case of Illinois firm that allegedly intimidated whistle-blower

Two N.J. men charged with extortion, obstruction in case of Illinois firm that allegedly intimidated whistle-blower
By Star-Ledger Staff, April 05, 2010, 7:52PM

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — Shortly after a foreign computer consultant complained he had been lured to the United States on a promise of a job and cheated out of $53,000, he received a late-night visit from two hostile men, according to authorities.
He was pulled from his Middlesex County house on Jan. 22, forced into a car and taken for a long ride on a cold night while the two men threaten to "take care" him. They wanted the consultant to withdraw complaints he made to federal labor investigators about their employer, an Illinois company that recruited the consultant to come to the United States, according to a federal indictment unsealed today.
Now, two employees of the firm are facing extortion and obstruction of justice charges, which carry up to 20 years in prison.
Trinath Chigurupati, a 36-year-old Indian citizen living in Monmouth Junction, was arrested at his home Wednesday and released on $150,000 bail. Sateesh Yalamanchili, 38, who recently moved from New Jersey to Wood Dale, Ill., surrendered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp in Newark, who set his bail at $150,000.

The intimidated consultant, said federal prosecutors, is a witness in a year-old probe by the U.S. Department of Labor into the suspects’ employer, ComData Consulting Inc. of Rolling Meadows, Ill., which recruits foreign workers with an expertise in web development, information technology and software development. The firm generally outsources the employees to other companies after sponsoring them for entry into the United States on special temporary visas, known as H-1Bs, reserved for foreign workers with specialized skills.

On Jan. 15, labor officials filed a civil complaint accusing ComData of failing to pay and underpaying four immigrant workers, including the consultant, about $142,000 after recruiting them under the H-1B program. Harassment of the computer consultant by Chigurupati and Yalamanchili began five days later, federal prosecutors said.
ComData was not named in the indictment, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato declined in court today to discuss whether his office is probing the firm or other witnesses have been harassed. ComData failed to return multiple telephone calls.
Chigurupati and Yalamanchili initially pressured the consultant on Jan. 20, after inviting him to a restaurant for what was supposed to be a job interview, authorities said. The threatening car ride followed two days later, and on a third night, the two men entered the consultant’s home, rousing him from sleep with slaps to the chest and shoulders, according to the charges.

On Feb. 4, the two men met him again at a restaurant and offered to pay $5,000 for him to recant his story, authorities said, adding the consultant had gone to federal authorities by then and was outfitted with a hidden recorder that captured every threat.

Yalamanchili and his lawyer, William Lundsten, declined comment on the charges today. Chigurupati’s lawyer, James A. Plaisted, said he was still reviewing the charges and called Chigurupati a "respectable hard-working individual."