Two Indian-origin persons are among nine charged in a US court on visa fraud and drug charges.
Saurabhkumar Patel, of Orangeburg, South Carolina faces conspiracy charges while Tarang Patel, of Newport, Kentucky faces conspiracy and visa fraud charges.
The two, along with seven law enforcement officers, have been charged in federal court in South Carolina on visa fraud and drug charges. If convicted, Saurabhkumar Patel and Tarang Patel face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
One of the schemes alleged in the indictment involved fraudulent U Nonimmigrant Visas ('U-Visas'), which are set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime.
To obtain a U-Visa, a law enforcement official must certify that the alien is assisting that law enforcement agency in the investigation or prosecution of the crime of which the alien was a victim.
According to the indictment, four officers helped individuals obtain fraudulent U-Visas by taking bribes for fraudulent certifications and creating fraudulent incident reports indicating that aliens were victims of crimes.
The charges further allege that officers took bribes in exchange for protecting methamphetamine and cocaine or the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The others charged are Springfield Police Department Chief Lacra Sharod Jenkins, Springfield Police Department Officer Allan Hunter, Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Deputy Carolyn Colter Franklin, Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nathaniel Miller Shazier, Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Deputy Stanley Lavalle Timmons, Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy James Albert Tucker and Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office Deputy Willie Paul David Rogers.
"If these allegations are proved, these defendants do not deserve to wear the badge and should not be allowed to bring disrepute on the overwhelming majority of men and women in blue who serve South Carolina with integrity," United States Attorney Sherri Lydon said.
"We will not tolerate the hypocrisy of those who would pretend to enforce the law, while violating it themselves as they seek to line their own pockets. We call that public corruption, and we will always call it out."