A religious leader from India, Sagarsen Haldar (32), aka Gopal Hari Das, has been sentenced to imprisonment for 37 months on charges of fraudulently obtaining and then selling religious worker visas (R-1 visas) to Indian nationals for a substantial amount of money. Upon serving the sentencing, he’ll be deported to India.
Haldar, proclaimed as the founder, president and CEO of Gaudiya Vaisnava Society (GVS), came under scanner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in June 2008 when U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Benefit Fraud Unit informed that GVS had filed numerous petitions for R-1 religious workers from India.
During the investigation, it came to attention that Haldar used his temple as a front for an elaborate religious visa fraud scheme. The R-1 applications falsely stated that the individuals were religious workers from India who planned to be priests and perform religious work at the GVS temple in Milwaukee. In fact the Indian nationals had no religious training or experience, and had no intention of being priests or performing religious work once they arrived in the United States.
Haldar was charged in June 2010 after ICE HSI agents arrested him at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago as he arrived in the United States from India. Searches of Haldar's luggage revealed that he was transporting identification documents – including passports and other Indian identification documents – bearing the names and photographs of other Indian nationals. The arrest was the culmination of a lengthy investigation into Haldar and GVS.
In the scheme, Haldar charged Indian nationals as much as $30,000 each in exchange for his assistance in fraudulently obtaining R-1 visas. The fraudulent priests typically made substantial cash payments to Haldar and his associates in India, and were indebted to Haldar for the balance once they arrived in the United States. They worked at convenience stores and other Milwaukee-area locations, and paid Haldar from what they earned.
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