McPHERSON — A married couple from India who themselves are unlawfully in the United States have been arrested on an indictment charging unlawful employment of aliens, document fraud, bank fraud and making false claims of U.S. citizenship, U. S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Wednesday.
Arrested were Satishkumar “Sam” Patel, 47, and his wife, Daxaben S. Patel, 36, both of McPherson, who are in federal custody and scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Wichita.
The indictment also charges four other illegal residents from India who allegedly were employed by the Patels, as well as Nitin B. Patel, 53, a Lawrence business partner of Satishkumar Patel’s, and two companies owned by the defendants.
The investigation was led by the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Office of Special Investigations and Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, and Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, the McPherson Police Department, the Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The indictment unsealed Wednesday contains 45 counts arising primarily from the Patels’ operation of a gas station and convenience store at 115 W. Kansas in McPherson called Route 56 Express.
The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of money and property related to the alleged crimes, including the business, real estate, cash, and money held in bank accounts controlled by the Patels. Many of those assets were seized today, Grissom said.
According to the indictment, Satishkumar and Daxaben Patel unlawfully entered the United States in the 1990s and have never had any lawful status here, but were able to obtain Social Security numbers by claiming to be aliens authorized to work.
Since then, the indictment alleges, the Patels have pretended to be U.S. citizens, buying a home in McPherson and engaging in business activities that didn’t result in checks of their citizenship or immigration status.
They obtained Kansas driver’s licenses using their Social Security numbers and swearing they were lawfully in the U.S., according to the indictment, resulting in charges of document fraud and use of a fraudulently obtained Social Security number, all felonies. Sastishkumar and Daxaben Patel also are charged with multiple counts of harboring aliens unlawfully in the United States, both by employing them and by providing housing at the Patel’s McPherson home.
The indictment alleges the Patels were able to obtain a mortgage loan to buy the home by falsely claiming on the mortgage loan application that they were United States citizens.
Satishkumar Patel also is charged with wire fraud for allegedly filing false quarterly unemployment insurance reports with the Kansas Department of Labor that listed only one employee, Daxaben Patel, for the McPherson gas station when, in fact, at least four other employees worked there.
The charges against Satishkumar Patel and Nitin B. Patel arise out of their ownership of a liquor store in Lawrence in which Satishkumar’s unlawful status in the U.S. and his ownership of the store allegedly were not properly disclosed to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. Foreign nationals are not permitted to obtain a retail liquor license in Kansas, and the identities of all owners of liquor stores are required to be disclosed.
The defendants face a maximum of five years in prison on the alien harboring and Social Security fraud charges, as well as the wire and mail fraud charges. They face a maximum of three years in prison on the false claim of citizenship charges, 10 years in federal prison for document fraud, and 20 years in prison for bank fraud. As in any criminal case, a person charged with a crime is considered innocent until and unless proven guilty. An indictment merely contains allegations of criminal conduct.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson.