Sowrabh Sharma (34), owner of IT Staffing companies SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. was sentenced to 15 months in prison today for his role in using phony documents to fraudulently obtain H1-B visas for foreign workers and submitting false tax returns.
H1-B Visa Fraud
According to Court documents and statements:
SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. offered consultants to clients in need of IT support. Both companies recruited foreign nationals with purported IT expertise, often student visa holders or recent college graduates, and sponsored them for H-1B visas with the stated purpose of working for SMC Data and MMC Systems’ clients throughout the United States.
Sharma admitted that from 2010 through April 2015, he and others falsely represented to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that dozens of foreign workers had full-time “in-house” positions, and would be paid an annual salary, as required to secure the visas. However, Sharma and his companies only paid the foreign workers when they were placed at a third-party client, or a company that entered into a contract for services with SCM Data and MMC Systems. Sharma further admitted that he and SCM Data and MMC Systems were violating USDOL regulations by not paying workers who were “benched,” or not working on a project.
Sharma also admitted that in some instances, foreign workers who were “benched” between projects and not working were told that if they wanted to maintain their H-1B visa status, they would need to come up with what their gross wages would be in cash and give it to SCM Data and MMC Systems to generate phony payroll checks.
Besides Sowrabh Sharma, the H1-B visa fraud investigation conducted over a period of three years resulted in conviction/indictment of others including some of the employees of SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. and an immigration attorney from Virginia.
Hiral Patel (HR Manager) of SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. and Sunila Dutt of Ashburn, VA (Immigration Attorney) have previously pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and visa fraud.
And, Shikha Mohta of Jersey City (Head of Finance), and Hari Kanne of India (Immigration Manager) of SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. were previously named as co-conspirators in H1-B Visa fraud scheme by the U.S. Attorney for District of New Jersey.
Besides using phony documents for obtaining H1-B visas fraudulently, Sowrabh Sharma of SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. admitted to committing tax fraud as well.
The court documents indicate that:
Sharma also admitted that he intentionally overstated and claimed false expenses pertaining to SCM Data and MMC Systems on his U.S. Individual Tax Returns for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 that resulted in a tax loss to the United States of over $1.1 million.
Prior to his prison sentencing today, Sowrabh Sharma, as per the court statements, made a payment of the $1.1 million toward tax loss and penalties to the IRS.
In addition to the 15 months prison term, U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court sentenced Sowrabh Sharma to one year of supervised release.