BOSTON , Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Sharon man was convicted today in federal court of fraud and misuse of documents required by the immigration laws, making false statements in a matter relating to the registry of aliens, and making false statements to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services ("Immigration Officials").
United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Bruce Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New England, and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Boston Field Division announced today that MUHAMMAD MASOOD, age 49, of 74 Chase Drive, Sharon, MA, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to five counts of an indictment charging MASOOD with fraud and misuse of documents required by the immigration laws, making false statements in a matter relating to the registry of aliens, and making false statements to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
At today's plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government's evidence would have proven essentially the following:
MASOOD lied repeatedly, both orally and in writing, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services ("Immigration Officials") concerning facts material to his eligibility to become a Lawful Permanent Resident ("LPR") of the United States , (commonly referred to as the holder of a "green card"), for which he had applied. In an application for LPR status submitted to the Immigration Service on or about December 18, 2002 , in a document submitted in support thereof on January 31, 2005 , and in interviews conducted under oath by immigration officials in matters relating to the registry of aliens on November 15, 2006 , and February 13, 2003 , MASOOD asserted that he had left the United States and returned to Pakistan during the two-year period from 1991 through 1993, as required as a condition of his Exchange Visitor visa. Moreover, he repeatedly asserted that, during that period of time, he had served as an Imam at a mosque in Faisalabad, Pakistan . MASOOD also lied about a prior arrest, which was material to the Immigration Service.
The defendant, MASOOD, came to this country as an economics student in 1987 pursuant to a J-1 visa. A J-1 visa is an Exchange Visitor visa, pursuant to a program which offers an opportunity to aliens who reside abroad to come to the United States to serve important interests for both countries. Because of the purpose of this program is to benefit the home country and because the funding for the visitor is in part from the government, there are restrictions on a J-1 visitor from obtaining future U.S. immigration benefits. Particularly, to ensure that meaningful exchange occurs, the Exchange Visitor program has a two-year home country physical presence requirement, which means that a J-1 visa-holder must return to his home country for two years before he is eligible to apply for future immigration benefits. In other words, an alien cannot become a legal permanent resident unless he complies with this requirement or gets a waiver.
The evidence demonstrates that MASOOD left his economics program at
The evidence shows that the defendant lied repeatedly over several years about his compliance with the J-1 visa requirement, and in order to cover-up those lies, told fictional stories about what he did in Pakistan during the two years he was supposed to return to Pakistan . He also told fictional stories with shifting details about how he re-entered the United States . The evidence indicates that the defendant never left the United States after 1990 and that he lived, worked, had children and even received traffic tickets in the Boston area during the time that he claimed to have gone back to Pakistan . The evidence also shows that MASOOD lied about a number of additional facts for purposes of obtaining benefits in the United States such as for housing, public assistance, and a driver's license.
Judge Woodlock scheduled sentencing for May 22, 2008 . MASOOD faces up to 10 years' imprisonment for each of the counts charging fraud and misuse of documents required by the immigration laws, and 5 years' imprisonment for the charges of false statements and false statements in a matter relating to the registry of aliens, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, up to a
The case was investigated by special agents of ICE and the FBI assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aloke Chakravarty and Jeffrey Auerhahn of Sullivan's Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.
SOURCE U.S. Attorney's Office