My recent interest in the EB-1 migration class (some of which are called “Einstein visas” by the press) was piqued by a court ruling in a five-year-old criminal case in southern Alabama that dealt with anything but geniuses.
To recapitulate: The initials stand for Employment-Based and the EB-1 class of legal immigrants is for “priority workers”. This class consists of three subclasses: EB-1A for “aliens with extraordinary ability”, EB-1B for “outstanding professors or researchers”, and EB-1-C for a different and less distinguished grouping, “multi-national executives and managers”.
It was among the third subclass that the corruption occurred in this case, largely managed by a junk dealer, Christopher Allen Dean, and his two co-conspirators, David Jesus Jimenez and the latter’s father-in-law, Tom Wayne. Dean, according to one of the court documents, made $250,000 a year for three years out of the scheme, which produced a minimum of 21 EB-1 principal visas, all illicit, and presumably dozens of additional visas for their dependents.
What Dean and company did was to recruit businessmen in Alabama and Florida to sign joint venture agreements with firms in China, and in some cases to forge related documents. The Chinese paid on the order of $300,000 each of the resulting visas, and about $30,000 of that went to the co-operating U.S. businesses. Each of the joint ventures was alleged to create a job for a Chinese executive, thus manufacturing EB-1C visas for them and their dependents.
The total amount of cash that changed hands was in excess of $4.3 million.
In short, this was a major breach of the immigration laws and the prosecution, which has been going on for five years, represents a major investment in time, money, and skills by the U.S. departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security. We first wrote about it just about exactly four years ago.
While obviously it is good that the junk dealer’s ring was thwarted, the results of the government’s years of activity are mixed: Only one of the middlemen (Jimenez) was jailed, two others were given three years of probation, and the would-be purchasers of the illicit visas, the rich Chinese, in some cases lost their bribe amounts and in some cases did not. As far as I can tell, from reading through lots of documents in the federal courts’ PACER system, none of the bribed U.S. businessmen, and none of the bribers has been so much as named in the case and, of course, not indicted.
The differential treatment of the three middlemen can be explained at least in part by their reactions to the investigation. Dean and Wayne pleaded guilty and thus spared the government some of the costs of their trials; Jimenez, on the other hand, not only fought the indictment, he took his case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where he lost again. He was convicted on three counts, was sent to jail for 33 months, and will face three years of probation after he is released.
Some of the bribers, reacting negatively to the forfeiture of their money, appealed to the 11th Circuit, some claiming that they were “innocent victims”, an implausible argument given the nature of the con game. It was the Law360 report on the 11th Circuit decision, confirming most but not all of the forfeitures, that reminded me of both the case and the immigration class of concern.
The exact title of the case, extending through most of two pages starts this way: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee versus APPROXIMATELY $299,873.70 SEIZED FROM A BANK OF AMERICA ACCOUNT, ending in the number 5538 held by an individual identified as P.Q. et al.”.
Thus it is important to get the size of the account to the nearest penny, but the name of the briber is masked as “P.Q. et al.”.
For more on these cases, the most recent PACER filing for the forfeiture decision can be seen at USCA Case 20-11107, the district court case against Dean at Case 1:16-cr-00206-KD, and the circuit court’s decision on Jimenez at USCA Case 11 18-10569.