3 Lawyers and 2 Interpreters Convicted in Asylum Fraud Scam

On 6/25/09, after a complex three-month trial in federal court in Sacamento, a jury agreed that a massive fraud had been uncovered. All five defendants were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government by filing false asylum claims, as well as numerous other charges.The case involved a law firm with offices in Sacramento and San Francisco that was run by brothers Jagprit Singh Sekhon, 39, and Jagdip Singh Sekhon, 42. A third attorney who worked with them, Manjit Kaur Rai, 33, and two interpreters also were charged.

The government said the five were involved in fraudulent activity from 2000 through 2004 that may have resulted in somewhere between 400 and 1,000 asylum seekers being allowed to remain in the United States after producing evidence that they would be harmed if returned to their native land.

The government contended that the defendants coached asylum seekers on how to answer questions and gave them phony stories to memorize for immigration officials, even though they were under oath.

Meanwhile, immigration authorities must decide whether to review the cases of hundreds of immigrants who were granted asylum through the scheme.