Indian Man Pleads Guilty To Misusing Facebook, WhatsApp For US Immigration Fraud


Kanwar Sarabjit Singh claimed himself to be a US immigration employee over Facebook, WhatsApp

New York: 

An Indian citizen has pleaded guilty to operating a fraud scheme by falsely representing as an employee of the US immigration service in which he used social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to scam people seeking to obtain American visas.

Kanwar Sarabjit Singh, 51, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, used Facebook and WhatsApp to falsely represent himself as an employee of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He claimed he worked in the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service, and would obtain genuine US visas in exchange for a fee of $3,000 to $4,000, US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said.

Mr Singh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and impersonation of a federal officer and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 14.

As part of his scheme, Mr Singh created a fake photo identification document pretending to be from the DHS, which he mailed to others in an effort to show that he was capable to obtain US immigration documents.

Mr Singh instructed individuals seeking immigration documents to e-mail him passport photographs, copies of their passports and other personally identifying information and to send him money through overnight delivery service or by wire transfer.

After receiving these documents and the requested fee up front, Mr Singh created and mailed fake letters purporting to be from the US Embassy in New Delhi which falsely represented that there was an appointment to pick up the requested visa documents. Many of Mr Singh’s victims resided overseas and were impoverished.

In addition to this visa fraud scheme, Mr Singh also admitted to engaging in an investment fraud scheme in Tennessee in 2012 in which he defrauded approximately 22 investors of approximately $340,000.

Mr Singh gained the trust of a local pastor and his church, including elderly members, and falsely represented to them that he owned a small company in India that provided labour for services, including data entry, to two large, international companies and that for a small, up-front investment, they would see a large return on their money.

Federal authorities said those defrauded by Mr Singh should contact the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
 





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Former Donald Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty In Robert Mueller Probe


Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States (Reuters)

WASHINGTON: 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty to two criminal counts as part of a deal with prosecutors on Friday, court documents showed in what could be a blow to Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running probe of Russian election meddling.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Details of the deal were likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) in federal court. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency.

It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller’s probe, dealing a blow to Trump ahead of congressional elections on Nov. 6.

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing.

A Virginia jury convicted Manafort last month on bank and tax fraud charges.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in a second trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

Manafort’s decision could be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

On Twitter on Aug. 22, Trump wrote: “Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal. Such respect for a brave man!”

According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort’s foreign lobbying.

Manafort’s conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller’s investigation. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner and the campaign’s deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russia probe, told Reuters on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort’s chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

“It’s not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road. It shows you’ve admitted your guilt,” he said on Friday before a deal was announced. He declined further comment until after the hearing.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Trump Aide Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To 2016 Campaign Finance Offenses


Cohen said he arranged to make payments for the principal purpose of influencing the election (File)

New York: 

US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in New York on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying he made payments to influence the 2016 election at the direction of a candidate for federal office.

The guilty pleas came in the same hour that a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of eight charges of tax and bank fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Cohen, 51, appearing in federal court in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to one count of wilfully causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

Cohen, one of Trump’s closest associates for more than a decade, said he arranged to make payments “for (the) principal purpose of influencing (the) election” at the direction of a candidate for federal office. He did not give the candidate’s name.

Porn star Stormy Daniels has said Cohen paid her $130,000 shortly before the November 2016 election to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

In addition, Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the election in which they discussed buying the rights to a story by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump, lawyer Rudy Giuliani said last month.

Under U.S. election law, campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign in order to influence an election, must be disclosed. A payment intended to silence allegations of an affair just before an election could constitute a campaign contribution, some experts have said.

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, agreed to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors earlier Tuesday. He also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution.

The plea deal includes a possible sentence of up to five years and three months in prison, Judge William Pauley III said during the hearing. Pauley scheduled sentencing for Dec. 12 and set bail at $500,000.

Manafort conviction’s resulted from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump’s Republican campaign.

The probe also led to a referral from Mueller about Cohen to federal prosecutors in New York, who began their own probe of the attorney.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia or having sex with Daniels or McDougal, and has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied meddling in the election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow interfered.

Cohen, who worked as Trump’s personal attorney at the Trump Organization, continued to advise the president after the election. But their relationship had frayed in recent months.

In court on Tuesday, Cohen’s voice cracked as he answered questions from Pauley.

Asked a standard question about whether he had consumed any alcohol or drugs before making his guilty plea, Cohen said he had had only a glass of 12-year-old Glenlivet, single-malt scotch with dinner the night before.

Cohen agreed to the plea deal to save millions of dollars, protect his family and limit his exposure, Politico said, quoting an unnamed source.

The investigation of Cohen included a raid in April by FBI agents, who seized documents and files from his office, home and hotel room.

The New York Times had reported on Sunday that federal prosecutors were focused on more than $20 million in loans obtained by Cohen from taxi businesses owned by him and his family.

Mueller’s investigation, which began in May 2017, has resulted in the indictment of more than 30 people and five guilty pleas.

The April FBI raids provoked an immediate reaction from Trump, who asked a judge to block prosecutors from reviewing the materials they had seized, citing attorney-client privilege. The effort was unsuccessful.

A number of Cohen’s financial dealings since Trump’s January 2017 inauguration have become public.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG has said it had paid Cohen nearly $1.2 million in a consulting deal; U.S. telecommunications company AT&T Inc said it made payments of $600,000; and South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd said it hired him for $150,000.

Critics have said the payments may have been attempts to buy influence with the president.

Cohen also received $500,000 from Columbus Nova LLC, a New York company linked to Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg. The firm has said the transaction had nothing to do with Vekselberg.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Wife Of Japanese Journalist Jumpei Yasuda Held In Syria Breaks Silence, Pleads For His Release


Ms Myu, wife of a Japanese freelancer journalist Jumpei Yasuda kidnapped in Syria (AFP)

Tokyo: 

The wife of a Japanese journalist kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago broke her silence Tuesday to plead for his release after he appeared in a hostage video.

Jumpei Yasuda, a 44-year-old freelancer, was kidnapped in the war-torn country in June 2015, and appeared in a rare video that emerged last week warning that he was in a bad situation.

“There are a lot of people in Japan — his family, relatives, friends — waiting for my husband,” his wife Myu told a news conference in Tokyo.

“Please return my husband safe as soon as possible,” she said tearfully. “As his wife, as his family, I want him… to set foot back on Japanese soil.”

Last week Yasuda and captured Italian national Alessandro Sandrini appeared in two separate videos that were similar in their staging.

Both men were wearing orange outfits similar to those of captives in jihadist hostage videos, with armed men whose faces were covered standing behind them.

The videos did not identify which group was holding the men or include specific demands.

Myu, who married Yasuda in 2008, said she had previously avoided speaking publicly about his abduction for fear she could affect negotiations for his release.

But she said when she watched the video, she felt her husband’s situation was “not optimistic but urgent” and decided to publicly seek his release.

The video also prompted some of the journalist’s friends and family to form a group to free him, campaigning to boost public awareness of the abduction.

Yasuda is thought to have been seized by the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria.

But with the shifting territory of Syria’s complicated conflict, it is unclear whether he is still being held by his original abductors or has been transferred to other captors.

In the latest video, he identified himself as Korean and gave a different name, but spoke in Japanese.

He gave the recording date as July 25, saying he was in a bad situation and asking for help.

His wife said she had no idea why Yasuda had identified himself as Korean in the video, but confirmed that it showed him and that he is Japanese.

She said Japanese government officials were in frequent contact with her but she was not aware if a ransom had been demanded.

In 2015 militants from the Islamic State group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.

The Japanese government was criticised for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Indian-Origin Man Bhaskar Patel Pleads Guilty For Taking $2.5 Million In Bribes In US


Pre-sentence investigation will be conducted before formal sentence for Bhaskar Patel (Representational)

Washington: 

An Indian-origin man has pleaded guilty to taking $2.5 million in bribes and kickbacks from companies seeking contracts to work on energy saving projects in the US government buildings.

Bhaskar Patel, 67, of Windermere, Florida, received the bribes and kickbacks when he served as a senior project manager for Schneider Electric Building Americas, based in Andover, Massachusetts.

He was responsible for obtaining bids from subcontractors and recommending for selection the subcontractors that would be awarded a contract under an energy saving project.

The payments were associated with federal energy savings performance contracts issued to Schneider Electric by various federal agencies from June 6, 2011, to April 19, 2016.

He pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Rutland to two felony charges, each carrying maximum penalties of 10 years in prison. He remains free on his personal recognizance pending a December 7 sentencing hearing.

Judge Geoffrey Crawford said federal probation officials would conduct a pre-sentence investigation before he formally hands down a sentence for Bhaskar Patel.

As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors filed a notice of forfeiture totalling $2,536,119 from Bhaskar Patel, VT Digger, a Vermont news portal, reported.

The plea agreement states that prosecutors have agreed to reduce the forfeiture amount to $1.75 million if Patel pays $950,000 on or before his sentencing.

He also faces fines of up to $5,072,238.38, or twice his ill-gotten gains.

Among the items federal prosecutors are seeking to seize as part of the forfeiture are his property in Windermere; a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E Class E350 vehicle; a watch; six rings; 43 earrings; 10 bracelets; 18 bangles; six pendants, USD 35,700 in Indian rupees and a timeshare property in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the portal reported.

Assistant US Attorney Abigail Averbach, a prosecutor in the case, said charges against other individuals involved in the case are possible, though she declined to say who those people might be.

Court records do indicate that in some cases Patel directed those paying him to write checks to his adult son and daughter. His children are only identified in court papers as “JP” and “FP”.

David Smith, a spokesman for Schneider Electric, said after the hearing that Mr Bhaskar Patel was terminated as soon as the allegations of wrongdoing came to light.

Mr Bhaskar’s scheme came to light when law enforcement received information that he had altered and falsified a bid document submitted to Schneider Electric by a Vermont subcontractor bidding for work on an energy savings project at the White River Junction VA facility, according to court records.

 





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Indian-Origin Physician Madhu Aggarwal Pleads Guilty To Healthcare Fraud In United States


Madhu Aggarwal will face 10 years imprisonment with USD 250,000 as fine. (Representational)

New York: 

An Indian-origin woman has pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully distributing controlled substances and healthcare fraud, US Attorney Scott Brady said.

Ms Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to the charges before United States District Judge Arthur Schwab.

Ms Aggarwal, a physician who practiced at a clinic in Pennsylvania, and others conspired together to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances such as buprenorphine and then unlawfully dispensed those substances to other persons.

Ms Aggarwal is also charged with healthcare fraud for allegedly causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to federal insurance programme Medicare for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine.

Mr Schwab scheduled the sentencing for November, when she will face a sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of USD 500,000 for the controlled substances offenses.

Ms Madhu Aggarwal faces an additional maximum imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of USD 250,000 for the healthcare fraud charge.





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Don’t Blame Lionel Messi, Pleads Argentina Manager Jorge Sampaoli


“We need to move on to the next phase, that’s what we came here for,” he said. “We don’t want to go to the last match not having resolved that.”

Asked repeatedly about Messi, Sampaoli said the disappointing start against Iceland was not the fault of his star player, despite the penalty miss.

“We were quite upset about not having won the match but I think… Leo should not shoulder all the responsibility.” 

He added: “When we succeed with Argentina, everyone takes credit for it but when Argentina loses, it’s always Leo’s fault. I think that’s quite unfair.”

Sampaoli is expected to make several changes to his team for the Croatia match, but would not be drawn on his selection as he said he had not yet spoken to his players.

Croatia are the group leaders after a 2-0 victory against Nigeria in their first match.

Anything but a win on Thursday would leave Argentina needing a positive result in their final group game against the Africans in Saint Petersburg on June 26.



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Sri Lankan Captain Dinesh Chandimal Pleads Not Guilty To Ball Tampering Charge


Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal on Sunday denied the ball tampering charge levelled against him by using sweets, said the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Sunday. Following Chandimal’s plead, Javagal Srinath of the Emirates Elite Panel of the ICC Match Referees will hold a hearing after the ongoing Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka concludes at St Lucia. “Dinesh Chandimal has pleaded not guilty to breaching Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct and, as such, Javagal Srinath of the Panel of ICC Match Referees will hold a hearing following the conclusion of the St Lucia Test against the Windies,” said an ICC statement.

On-field umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, and third umpire Richard Kettleborough, all from the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, had charged Chandimal after play on Saturday for changing the condition of the ball in breach of clause 41.3 of the ICC Standard Test Match, ODI and T20I Playing Conditions.

Match officials charged the Sri Lankan captain after television footage from the final session’s play on Friday appeared to show the Sri Lankan captain taking sweets out from his left pocket and putting those in his mouth, before applying the artificial substance to the ball which the umpires viewed as an attempt to change its condition.

According to the ICC press release, video evidence will be used in the hearing. The hearing will be attended by the match officials as well as members of the Sri Lanka team management.

All level 2 breaches carry an imposition of a fine between 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the applicable match fee and/or up to two suspension points, and three or four demerit points.

(With AFP Inputs)



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Rahul Gandhi Pleads “Not Guilty” In Defamation Case Filed By RSS Leader


Rahul Gandhi outside Bhiwandi court.

Bhiwandi:  Rahul Gandhi today pleaded “not guilty” in a defamation case filed by an RSS leader in Maharashtra.

An RSS worker, Rajesh Kunte, had filed the case in Bhiwandi in 2014 after watching the Congress president’s speech at an election rally.

“The RSS people had killed (Mahatma) Gandhi,” the Congress president had allegedly said in the rally.

Mr Gandhi reportedly said in court that he had indeed made those comments.

The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.

Mr Gandhi arrived in Mumbai this morning on a two-day visit to Maharashtra.

He is also expected to address party workers and interact with its corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.





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Harvey Weinstein Film Producer Pleads Not Guilty To Rape: Reports


Harvey Weinstein, 66, entered his plea in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday morning (Reuters)

New York:  Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of rape and sexual assault in the first cases involving the disgraced producer to be tested in criminal court since scores of accusers emerged last year, New York news media reported.

Weinstein, 66, entered his plea in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, the New York Daily News reported, after a grand jury indicted him last week in two cases.

Weinstein turned himself in at a New York police station on May 25, and was taken to court in handcuffs for his initial arraignment. A judge ordered him released on a $1 million cash bail on condition that he surrender his U.S. passport and agree to wear a location-tracking device. He was ordered to remain in New York state or Connecticut.

More than 70 women have accused Weinstein, the co-founder of the Miramax film studio and The Weinstein Co, of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades, all of which he has denied.

The accusations, first reported by the New York Times and the New Yorker last year, gave rise to the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office did not name the two women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault in the criminal complaint filed against him following a months-long investigation with the New York Police Department.

The details of one of the cases closely align with the account of Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress who told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to give him oral sex in 2004.

If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.

Once a fixture of elite Manhattan and Los Angeles society, Weinstein has been ostracized since the accusations became public. He went to Arizona for sex addiction therapy.

The Weinstein Co’s board fired him, the company filed for bankruptcy in March, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him. In years past, the Academy had showered him with Oscars for a string of films that helped define independent cinema in the 1990s, including “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”

London’s Metropolitan Police and Los Angeles prosecutors have said they are reviewing accusations of sexual assault against him.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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