One-time council candidate draws 30 months in prison

EDISON — A township man who owns businesses in Edison, Woodbridge and New York and once vied for a seat on the Edison Township Council was sentenced to 30 months in prison for orchestrating an eight-year immigration fraud scheme.

Sandipkumar Patel, 42, received his sentence, along with an order to pay a $50,000 fine and $423,452 in restitution to the IRS, on June 2 from New Jersey District Court Judge William H. Walls, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials.

Patel pleaded guilty in September 2014 to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and subscribing to a false federal income tax return.

According to authorities, Patel ran a cashfor visas scheme from 2001 to 2009, falsely telling Indian nationals that he would provide jobs for them once they reached the U.S.

To facilitate the immigrants’ illegal entry into the country, Patel certified on their visa applications that he would employ them in a variety of technical capacities in several companies throughout the state. He charged the immigrants tens of thousands of dollars for the false certifications, authorities said.

In efforts to keep the scheme hidden, Patel issued payroll forms and checks to the immigrants, later requiring them to return the money to him. In addition, authorities said, Patel took more money from the immigrants as reimbursement for payroll tax expenses he incurred in the process. He also charged them for visa extensions, which he secured by using fraudulent pay stubs and payroll checks, authorities said.

To support the falsified payrolls, Patel overstated his payroll expenses on his federal income tax returns by more than $1.4 million over four years, resulting in an underreported tax obligation of $400,000, according to law enforcement officials.

According to court documents, Patel was principal of several corporations, which he used throughout the scheme to support his falsified claims — Software Programming and Consulting (SPC) in Edison; Mercury Staffing, with offices in Edison and Woodbridge; and Medical Staffing International, which also has offices in Edison and Woodbridge.

Patel ran unsuccessfully for Edison Township Council in November 2013 on the ticket of former Mayor Antonia Ricigliano.