Sunday, July 13, 2014





Two Wilkes-Barre men sentenced in visa-fraud case

Shell companies were cover for foreign gas station workers


July 26. 2013 12:15AM

By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6113




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SCRANTON — Two Indian nationals living in Wilkes-Barre must pay nearly $2 million and face deportation in connection with a visa-fraud and money-laundering scheme involving workers at a Kidder Street gas station.


Sudheer Bandi, 45, and Ram Challa, 44, appeared Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo, the final two defendants to be sentenced in a 2009 case in which eight others also pleaded guilty to various charges.


Caputo sentenced the men to time served and two years of supervised release, and they must forfeit $1.9 million each in business proceeds. Both men also face deportation from the United States, said Heidi Havens, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith.


They were arrested in 2009 after investigation into a conspiracy under which participants created a fictitious computer consulting company as a cover, while actually working as gas station clerks.


According to prosecutors, the conspirators incorporated a business entity known as JMR, and sought to convince Labor Department and Homeland Security officials that “they were unable to procure U.S. workers of a certain ability and experience or expertise … and therefore needed to hire foreign nationals.” The men successfully applied for 17 separate visas for prospective JMR employees, prosecutors said.


But the address listed for JMR, 890 Kidder St., Suite C-02, was the location of a Sunoco gas station they operated, and nothing else. Prosecutors said they funneled money from other businesses they controlled through JMR accounts to give the illusion of a working business, while the immigrants they sponsored were working as gas station clerks.


Bandi and Challa were charged in November 2009 and pleaded guilty in December 2009. Others in the case included:


• Ranga R. Junuthula, 43, of Montvale, N.J., who was charged in April 2010 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both visa fraud and money laundering. Junuthula was sentenced in October 2010 to 14 months’ imprisonment, $5,000 fine and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $1.9 million.


• Ramana Bandreddi, 43, of Herdon, Va., who was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the giving of false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Bandreddi was sentenced in January 2012 to one year of probation and a $3,500 fine and ordered to forfeit $14,025.


• Krishna Koteru, 44, of Parlin, N.J., who was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the giving of false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Koteru was sentenced in January 2012 to one year of probation and a $3,000 fine and ordered to forfeit $21,865.


• Ravi Kumar Nakirikanti, 40, of Malvern, who was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Nakirikanti was sentenced in March to one year of probation and a $3,000 fine and ordered to forfeit $122,340.


• Venkat Varkala Reddy, 42, of Edison, N.J., who was charged in July 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Reddy was sentenced in February 2013, to one year probation and a $2,000 fine. Reddy also was ordered to forfeit $1,496.


• Raja Voggu, 43, of Devon, who was charged in June 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide false statements in naturalization, citizenship or registry of aliens. Voggu was sentenced in December 2012 to one year of probation and ordered to forfeit $28,563.




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