Death Threats and Bond Defaults Linked to Different H-1B Programs

By David North on June 8, 2012

Death threats were linked in a court document to one major H-1B program and a $19 million bond issue default to another H-1B user, the latter according to this week's New York Times.

The death threats were made against Jay Palmer, the stand-up U.S. citizen who blew the whistle against Infosys, one of the largest of the Indian bodyshops in the H-1B business, and the bond default was announced by Wells Fargo, trustee of a series of bonds issued by three tax-supported charter schools run by the controversial Turkish Gulen movement.

Unfortunately, except for this blog, those linkages were not reported as such, nor was the fact that both of these powerful Asia-based entities were using U.S. immigration laws — at least in my eyes — to undermine U.S. labor markets and U.S. institutions.

For instance, the Times story, "Audits for 3 Georgia Schools Tied to Turkish Movement", about the controversial chain of Gulen charter schools and their disastrous internal finances, did not mention the H-1B program by name, simply saying in the next-to-last paragraph:

One criticism of the schools involves their reliance on teachers imported from Turkey while teacher unemployment in the United States remains high. The Fulton Science Academy Middle School has paid $75,000 in immigration-related expenses for such employees.

That's our Georgia, by the way, the one just north of Florida, not the other Georgia, just north of Turkey, which at one point was partially run by the Ottoman Turks.

For more on how the Gulen schools have used and abused the H-1B program, notably by bringing in H-1B workers to teach Turkish in American high schools where there is no consumer demand for such instruction, see the CIS Backgrounder "H-1B + K-12 = ?".

The default was announced by Wells Fargo on the grounds that "the failure to disclose the ongoing concerns with Fulton Science Academy's charter renewal petition constituted an omission of material facts in the public statement". This is one of three Gulen charter schools in Fulton County, and it recently was denied a renewal of its charter, an unusual event in the charter school business. The announcement of the default means that the bond buyers are now free to try to get their money back by suing the Academy.

The Gulen movement has been inspired by "Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen", now a resident of Pennsylvania, whose photo appeared in the Times. Many of the Gulen schools in the United States have long been charged with questionable financial dealings, notably by giving contracts to favored, Turkish-run contractors, often when they are not the lowest bidder on construction and other contracts.

The death threats to Palmer, reported earlier on a CBS-TV News special report, were made in connection with Palmer's efforts as an Infosys employee to get the H-1B-using corporation to stop illegally employing Indian high-tech workers coming to the United States on B-1 visas. (B-1 visas are for visiting business people, who may attend conferences, engage in training, or sell products or services, but who may not work in the U.S. economy.) When Palmer failed to get the high-tech giant to mend its B-1 ways, he sued in federal court and Infosys "benched him", i.e., left him on the payroll with nothing to do. They also failed to pay him the bonuses that are part of the firm's usual compensation system.

In connection with that suit, Palmer's attorney, Kenneth J. Mendelsohn, on Monday filed a plaintiff's brief in opposition to an effort by Infosys to secure summary judgment against Palmer's claims. This can be seen by users of the federal court's PACER database as case 2:11-cv-00217-MHT-CSC document 87.

In his brief, Mendelsohn provided specific information regarding the death threats, including in some cases the names of the persons issuing them. While there is no suggestion in the brief that Infosys orchestrated the threats, all seemed to be coming from Infosys employees.

One example, described on pp. 17 and 18 of the brief, was as follows:

On … Monday, February 28, 2011, [five days after he sued the firm] Mr. Palmer reported to his assignment at Axis Capital, where he found a note on the keyboard of his computer that said

"Just leave, you are not wanted here, hope your journey brings you death."

(Exhibit 8 —Depo. Palmer p, 229 (Exhibit 9) When he turned on his computer at his desk, a Word document appeared on the screen with the same threat typed out. Infosys controlled the network at Axis Capital so all the Infosys people that were on staff there had access to his computer … . The only conclusion is that this threat was made by an Infosys employee.

Axis Capital is an Infosys client, presumably named by someone unfamiliar with World War II.

The brief offers similar details about three other death threats, all over the Internet, one of which concluded:

[B]urn in your hell and death to you and the family. Infosys rules the world.

One can only hope that this court battle, one that pits a down-home citizen programmer (i.e., David) against Infosys (playing Goliath), will get the media attention it deserves.