(The Center Square) – Federal investigators are searching for a Chicago immigration attorney accused of helping his clients file immigration forms filled with sham marriages, fake jobs and false accusations of domestic abuse.
Mohammad Reza Baniassadi, owner of The Law Offices of Reza Baniassadi, faces one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and five counts of falsifying applications for immigration benefits. Each count of falsifying immigration applications is punishable by up to ten years in prison. The conspiracy count carries up to five years in prison.
Baniassadi, 65, is considered a fugitive, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. A person who answered the listed phone number for Baniassadi’s law firm said Monday that Baniassadi was out of the country.
Prosecutors alleged Baniassadi and two employees gave false information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of foreign national clients seeking U.S. immigration benefits. That included made-up jobs, sham marriages, cheating on civics tests and false accusations of domestic abuse.
Baniassadi told clients to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens, helped them cheat on oral civics exams, falsified claims of spousal abuse and fabricated job offers from U.S. companies, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors indicted Baniassadi in August 2022. The indictment was unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The indictment alleges that from 2013 to 2020 Baniassadi and two unnamed employees used tricks to get around obstacles to immigration.
For example, prosecutors said Baniassadi had one employee pretend to be a translator for his clients to “mistranslate and falsely provide to the immigration officer the correct answers to questions on the civics test that the client had not correctly answered.”
Prosecutors also claimed that Baniassadi would tell clients to see a psychologist he chose and coach them on stories about abuse. He would also tell clients he knew were happily married to get divorced. In some cases, he arranged for fake employment offers, according to the indictment.
Baniassadi did not immediately respond to a call from The Center Square on Monday seeking comment on the charges.