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Judge: Mary Kay Vyskocil
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Mahattan County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in New York City
Description: New York City, New York criminal defense lawyers represented Defendants charged or their roles in an immigration fraud conspiracy. DZHAMGAROVA, a leader of the scheme and an immigration lawyer, was sentenced to two years in prison, and ARCADIAN, also an attorney, was sentenced to six months in prison.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Out of her Brighton Beach law office, Dzhamgarova, assisted by Arcadian and others, invented offensive lies to cheat our country’s asylum process. The asylum system is designed to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people — those who justifiably fear imprisonment, assault, torture, or death because of their religion, nationality, ethnicity, political views, gender, or sexual orientation. When attorneys cynically exploit those fears and line their pockets by preparing and filing fraudulent documents and coaching clients to lie under oath, they abuse the trust placed in them and undermine the asylum system.”
According to the Indictment, other documents filed in this case, and statements made in open court:
Between November 2018 and December 2021, ILONA DZHAMGAROVA, an immigration attorney, ran the Dzhamgarova Firm, an immigration services firm based in Brooklyn, New York. The Dzhamgarova Firm worked with clients — primarily aliens from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States — seeking visas, asylum, citizenship, and other forms of legal status in the United States. Among other things, the Dzhamgarova Firm advised certain of its clients regarding the manner in which they were most likely to obtain asylum in this country, fully understanding that those clients did not legitimately qualify for asylum. The firm also prepared and submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) clients’ fraudulent Form I-589 asylum applications, asylum affidavits — statements of an asylum applicant’s personal history and claimed basis for asylum, often including allegations of past persecution — and related supporting documentation. Members and associates of the firm also coached certain clients to lie under oath during interviews conducted by USCIS Asylum Officers and provided legal representation to their clients during various immigration proceedings.
Among other things, DZHAMGAROVA advised clients to seek asylum by falsely claiming that they were members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community who suffered persecution in their native countries, when DZHAMGAROVA fully understood that these clients were not members of that community and suffered no such persecution. Additionally, DZHAMGAROVA and her husband, ARTHUR ARCADIAN, also an attorney, prepared and submitted clients’ fraudulent asylum applications and affidavits to USCIS, under penalty of perjury, fully understanding that these documents at times contained material falsehoods. DZHAMGAROVA, ARCADIAN, and others, including co-defendant Igor Reznik, also coached certain clients to lie in asylum interviews conducted by USCIS asylum officers and represented these clients as they lied under oath during immigration proceedings.
The Dzhamgarova Firm also employed writers, including Reznik, who knowingly concocted and drafted clients’ fraudulent asylum affidavits so that they could be submitted as part of clients’ asylum applications. These affidavits, which were designed to support clients’ persecution claims, conveyed narrations of clients’ personal histories that were filled with falsehoods, including events and incidents of alleged persecution that were fabricated by Reznik and his co-conspirators.
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Reznik, 41, of New York, New York, who also previously pled guilty to immigration fraud conspiracy, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Vyskocil on June 7, 2023.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, USCIS’s New York Asylum Office and Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, and Homeland Security Investigations. Mr. Williams thanked United States Customs and Border Protection for its assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David R. Felton and Jonathan E. Rebold are in charge of the prosecution.
Outcome: DZHAMGAROVA, 46, and ARCADIAN, 44, both of Brooklyn New York, previously pled guilty on January 25, 2023, before Judge Vyskocil to immigration fraud conspiracy. As part of their sentences, DZHAMGAROVA was sentenced to two years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $540,000, and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine, and ARCADIAN was sentenced to two years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $1,500, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.