A South Florida businessman has been sentenced to prison, fined and ordered to pay $197,000 to 29 victims of visa fraud.
Michael V. Lombardi, 41, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., received a prison term of four years and three months, was fined $10,000 and given three years of probation after he serves his full term in a federal prison.
He faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Lombardi, owner of U.S. Opportunities in West Palm Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, false statements and visa fraud.
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis said the conspiracy occurred between January 2009 and April 2010, when Lombardi's business fraudulently obtained temporary work visas for overseas recruits and placed them with U.S. companies that were not authorized to hire them. At Lombardi's direction, some of the workers used fraudulent visas for jobs with Mississippi companies, Davis said.
Court documents show the companies included businesses in Biloxi and Purvis.
The temporary visas were under the H-2B visa program, which allows non-immigrants to perform non-agricultural work on an intermittent or seasonal basis at approved U.S. companies.
Lombardi was arrested Sept. 30 after indictment. He was taken into custody May 16, when he accepted a plea agreement. He also agreed to forfeit $41,489 in cash seized by the government and a total of $8,448.37 from two checking accounts.
U.S. District Judge Walter J. Gex III sentenced him Monday in Gulfport.
"Mr. Lombardi not only defrauded the U.S. government by illegally acquiring work visas -- his actions also reduced the supply of jobs available to American citizens in this very tough economy," said Raymond Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations field office in New Orleans.
HSI, a branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, investigated the case along with the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams.
Lombardi still faces a related civil lawsuit that was put on hold pending resolution of the criminal case. He is named as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit that accuses him and others of human trafficking.
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