LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The owner of a Los Angeles employment agency has been sentenced to two years in prison for filing false work visa petitions, federal authorities said.
Lilia Tabafunda, 58 -- owner of People's Resources International Services -- faces deportation when her sentence in completed, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday in a news release.
Tabafunda pleaded guilty in July to charges resulting from an ICE investigation that began in 2007 after ICE received a tip Tabafunda was filing suspicious H-1B non-immigrant visa petitions, ICE said.
Prosecutors alleged in court documents Tabafunda used names of non-existent companies and non-profit organizations for 10 years in submitting fraudulent employment-based, non-immigrant visa petitions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Labor.
An indictment handed up in November 2012 alleged Tabafunda falsely claimed prominent organizations were seeking to employ her clients -- mostly Philippine nationals who had entered the United States on tourist visas.
Employment-based visas are issued when a U.S. business needs someone from another country to fill a job it has not been able to fill drawing from the U.S. labor pool.
Tabafunda was sentenced to 24 months in prison for making erroneous statements on an employment visa petition, and a concurrent prison term of 12 months and one day for lying during her own interview for U.S. citizenship, the news release said. She was ordered to pay $54,000 in restitution.
Prosecutors said Tabafunda charged clients $2,500 to $10,000 to file visa petitions on their behalf.