Plea agreement reached in H-1B case

Judge will decide on jail time, and can fine company up to $500,000 on mail fraud charges

U.S. officials say a plea agreement has been reached in an H-1B fraud case involving New Jersey IT consulting firm Vision Systems Group Inc.

The agreement, which follows a court ruling earlier that supressed some evidence in the case, reduced the charges and potential financial penalties.

Vision Systems was indicted in 2009 after U.S. immigration authorities said they had arrested 11 people in six states as part of investigation into visa and mail fraud. The company was charged with with conspiracy and eight counts of mail fraud. The government sought a forfeiture of $7.4 million.

The plea agreement was filed recently in U.S. District Court in Iowa and signed by Viswa Mohan Mandalapu, president of Vision Systems.

The agreement lets a federal Judge fine the company up to $500,000. Vision Systems also agreed to pay restitution of at least $236,250.

Jail time may be involved, but that was also left up to the judge's discretion.

The plea agreement calls for Vision Systems to plead guilty to mail fraud charges.

The U.S. alleged that the Vision, in South Plainfield, N.J., created a shell company in Iowa so it could pay some of its visa workers the state's lower prevailing wage rates. The government said that it displaced U.S. workers and violated prevailing wage laws.

The government's case was hurt by its handling of electronic records. Investigators made digital images hard drives and then turned them over to a computer expert to extract files.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt, in a 41-page ruling, said the electronic search was reckless and "over-inclusive," meaning the government searches exceed the warrant. The judge suppressed some of the evidence.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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