Indian Body Shop Indicted for Abuse of H-1B Program

An H-1B placement operation in Texas has been charged with mistreating its workers, misleading the U.S. government, and engaging in both visa fraud and wire fraud.

Earlier this month, Dibon Solutions of Carrollton, Texas, and six of its current or former executives were hauled into federal court in Dallas to face these counts. The principal defendants are Atula and Jiten "Jay" Nanda, two feuding brothers who had at one point owned the company jointly. (They are currently engaged in a separate court battle with each other over the control of the firm.)

The specifics are, sad to say, all too familiar given the frequency with which they occur.

The conspirators told the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and State that they had full-time jobs for computer programmers; they obtained H-1B visas for the workers, and brought them to Texas, promising full pay even when work was not available for the nonimmigrants (probably from India.) Dibon's business was the renting out of H-1B workers to high-tech firms.

But work was not always available, and the "benched" H-1Bs were not paid or not paid in full when they were not working — contrary to the law. The conspirators would then encourage the benched workers to go out and try to drum up business for Dibon, so that they could go back to work.

The indictment indicated that this happened to eight individuals in the years 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Unfortunately, the court filings in the criminal case do not discuss the micro-economics of the situation, such as how much the H-1Bs were paid and how much they were supposed to be paid. But the civil case (between the brothers) indicates that amounts as high as $2.7 million were among the bones of contention, suggesting a successful family firm.

There is nothing in the court records to suggest it, but I wonder if the fraud came to light as a by-product of the falling out between the brothers.

Even without fraud, the H-1 B program is, of course, a disgrace in its design, its operation, and because of the way it depresses the high-tech labor market. It is too bad that cases like that of Dibon do note secure more press attention.

I am grateful to Kenneth Mendelsohn, an Alabama attorney who has handled H-1B litigation on behalf of the victims of the program, for calling it to my attention. Users of PACER, the federal courts electronic document system, can review the criminal case (the indictment) at 3:13-cr-00065-M, and the civil case at 3:12-cv-00011-B, both filed in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.