HOUSTON (CN) – A 70-year-old immigration attorney was sentenced to 14 months in prison for money laundering, visa fraud and encouraging Chinese nationals to enter the country illegally, federal prosecutors said. Kenneth Rothey created sham relationships between Chinese and U.S. companies as a front to get work visas for Chinese nationals, who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars for the visas, prosecutors said.
Rothey went on the lam in China from 2005 until July 2008 when Immigration and Customs enforcement apprehended him.
“The investigation leading to the indictment and subsequent extradition of Rothey produced evidence proving Rothey and others involved in his scheme used eight U.S. businesses to act as petitioners on behalf of 10 Chinese clients willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for obtaining permanent residence status through employment-based visas,” prosecutors said.
“Rothey and others created an illusory relationship between Chinese companies and U.S. companies by having representatives from the U.S. companies enter into contracts of sale with the Chinese companies in exchange for an initial fee. Once each of the eight U.S. companies was shown on paper as a subsidiary of a Chinese company, Rothey and members of his firm prepared and presented fraudulent petitions and supporting documents on behalf of their clients with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”
The investigation began in May 2001 after immigration officials received complaints about Rothey.