Two Iranian Americans and two Iranian citizens residing permanently in the United States have been indicted on charges that they conspired to prepare false immigration documents for wealthy Iranians who wanted permanent residence here.
The indictments also charge that as part of the conspiracy, payoffs were made to a U.S. immigration officer who allegedly issued residency documents to the Iranians without checking their applications. The immigration officer, who was not named in the indictments, was not charged.
Three defendants were charged in one indictment with conspiracy to defraud the government and with filing false statements with the government or aiding and abetting in that alleged offense. Those defendants are Shams Din Javid, 48, of Falls Church, his sister-in-law, Kheiri Javid, 30, of Los Angeles, and his sister, Ashraf Tiller, 27, of Arlington.
The fourth defendant, Hassan Hadj Mohammadi, 28, of Bethesda was charged in a separate indictment with the same offenses and has posted a $75,000 bond. All have pleaded not guilty.
The grand jury charged in the indictments that the Iranians who wanted permanent residence paid a fee to the four defendants, who then allegedly would submit forms to INS falsely stating that the Iranians either were spouses, parents or siblings of U.S. citizens, or had job offers here. Meeting any of those qualifications would either exempt the Iranians from government quotas or give them preference over other applicants.
The applications also allegedly falsely stated that the Iranian applicants were residents of either Northern Virginia or the District.
The indictments indicate that false documents were submitted to the INS for 22 Iranians. The Justice Department's public integrity section, the FBI and the INS are continuing to investigate the handling of the residency documents.
The two indictments did not state the amount of the fee paid by the Iranians to the four defendants. However, in a similar case last year, in which another immigration official admitted he took payoffs from Iranians in exchange for his help, it was disclosed that the fees to the middleman were as high as $10,000 per case.
In the indictments, a U.S. District Court grand jury said the immigration officer opened a checking account with his wife at the First American Bank in Washington, in the name of a travel agency, during the time of the alleged conspiracy and that more than $232,000 was credited to that account.
The officer had been assigned to the Washington District office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and is still working for INS, a Justice Department spokesman said.
Shams and Kheiri Javid were arrested in Los Angeles last week after the grand jury in Washington returned a sealed indictment and Tiller was taken into custody in Northern Virginia, according to the Justice Department spokesman. Kheiri Javid posted a $10,000 bond, Tiller$25,000, and Shams Javid $125,000.
According to the indictments, the four defendants, who the Justice Department said were acting as "consultants," were involved in the preparation of more than 20 sets of fraudulent applications for their Iranian clients from April 1980 to August 1981.
As part of the conspiracy, the immigration official allegedly would "refrain from diligently and effectively" examining the applications submitted to the INS Washington office or interviewing the Iranian applicants before approving their applications.
The case, now before Judge John H. Pratt, is scheduled for a further hearing on Oct. 18.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine or both on each count against them.