Three Plead Guilty to Immigration Fraud Business in Florida

Three men recently pleaded guilty to an immigration scam to procure visas for foreign nationals if the latter agreed to purchase home-construction companies.

Richard A. Murdoch, of Florida, pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion. Two U.K. residents, Hugh Morgan and Christopher A. Barrett, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.

The men owned and operated a business called Royal Development, which served as a front organization for the lucrative immigration. According to the Department of Justice, the men promised foreign nationals living arrangements and help with immigration documents if the foreign nationals agreed to purchase construction businesses in Florida.

The conspirators advised foreign nationals that that the conspirators would file all of the immigration and visa paperwork, as well as help foreign nationals adjust to life after moving to the United States. The conspirators also promised that once the immigrants had purchased a construction company, the immigrants would receive help running it.

The men charged foreign nationals between $65,000 and $165,000, which included both the purchase of a construction company and the immigration paperwork. The men obtained $2.4 million from U.K. investors, according to figures released by the Department of Justice.

The three men were arrested on April 26, 2010. Morgan was arrested in Florida, where he lived, along with Murdoch. Barrett was arrested by law enforcement officials in Ontario, Canada, where he was living. Barrett was extradited to the United States on charges relating to the case that were filed in 2009.

In his plea document, Murdoch admitted to submitting false statements in the documents and affidavits he submitted for foreign nationals. He also admitted to bringing in over $500,000 from Royal Development between 2003 and 2005, and without paying taxes on any of it. According to the plea, Murdoch used the $189,852 that should have paid to the U.S. government, to buy cigars, go hang gliding and purchase a 1987 Porsche. Morgan and Barrett admitted to making false claims to immigration officials.

Murdoch faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for visa fraud and five additional years for tax evasion. Morgan faces a maximum of five years in prison for each conspiracy charge, and Barrett faces a total maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. All three face additional fines up to $250,000 for each charge.

Foreign nationals can enter the United States legally through several investor classifications, each of which requires strict compliance with U.S. immigration law. An experienced immigration lawyer can help to ensure both that the process goes as smoothly and has has an increased likelihood of a successful outcome.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit Rabinowitzrabinowitz.com